Musinfo Portrait – René Wohlhauser


Good day ladies and gentlemen.
My Name is René Wohlhauser. I am a composer and I will present you some of my compositions to give you insights in my way of working and way of thinking. We will start with the composition „Duometrie“. I wrote this piece in a creative period in which I wrote very complex music. What a score page might look like, we can see here. One may wonder why I wrote such complicated music. My goal was not to resort to anything preformed, but to reinvent and develop the whole music thoroughly. It takes a lot of effort, to write such complicated music. This is why this piece, with a duration from only five minutes, generated more than 200 sketches. The title “Duometrie” indicates that I have developed all the music of this duo from the pre-established time signatures. ll musical figures emerge (in a logical composition process) from the ordinal premisses. This has resulted in asynchronous overlays of layers. This manifests itself in the fact that the time for both performers is not synchronised, by playing different tempi against each other at the same time. And yet, they must be together again at the beginning of each bar in order to make the superordinate time structure clear and tangible. So this piece was about pushing the boundaries, about triumphing and expanding the possibilities; it was about taking risks to bring the music out of the ordinary into new soundscapes, to advance into the depths of a new existential experience of music. Now we will talk about the “Rachearie” (Revenge Aria) from my opera “Gantenbein”, which premiered 2004 at the Lucerne Theatre with four soloists and the Lucerne Sinfonie Orchestra conducted by Mark Foster. This opera is about the relationship between Max Frisch and Ingeborg Bachmann. That is why I put together texts from their two novels for the libretto, in which they processed their relationship literarily. These are the Novels “Mein Name sei Gantenbein” from Max Frisch and “Malina” from Ingeborg Bachmann. However, this text compilation led to a scandal. For the heirs of Bachmann Frisch is still the culprit of the early death of Ingeborg Bachmann. She could never properly handle the relationship separation. Under the influence of drugs she fell asleep while smoking and caused a room fire, in which she lost her life. The heirs have denied the text rights. That is why I was forced to replace her dialogue parts with corresponding passages from Frischs Novel. The tragedy is, that Ingeborg Bachmann can not articulate herself with her own voice in this opera. Th e next piece is called „Je me sens un salaud“ (a Quote from Jean-Paul Sartre) from the opera „L’amour est une duperie“. This opera is written on allowed texts by Simone de Beauvoir and forbidden texts by Jean-Paul Sartre. This is another scandal in which I accidentally got involved. The heirs of Jean-Paul Sartre used the 70 year copyright-period to prevent the distribution of his texts. This is why they do not allow the texts to be combined with other art forms, like music; without any reason. I suppose that these are the same people he used to argue with throughout his life. They seem to be successful, because the name Sartre has nearly dissapeared from the public discourse. Even though his philosophical themes and issues are still very current. For example the random Thrownness of man into existence (a central issuel of the existentialism). During his captivity during World War II, he engaged intensively with the philosopher Martin Heidegger especially with his main work „Sein und Zeit“ (Being and Time). This has let to Sartres main work with a similar title „Das Sein und das Nichts“ (Being and Nothingness). In my understanding the Nothingness means the absence of an instance which gives orientation to the people as religion used to do with its bans and commandments. Today people have to deal with freedom themselves and take responsibility for their actions. The heirs wanted to forbid that the name Sartre would be mentioned in connection with my work, but they can not. I can dedicate my work who I want to. Because I dedicated my work to Beauvoir and Sartre, I have to explain why the texts of Beauvoir are being sung, but the texts of Sartre are not; respectively they are only sung in a encrypted secret language which has to be decrypted first, to be understood. Now we discuss the piece „Uom Raswékje“ from the „Kasamarówa“-cycle, which includes six pieces. In this piece, I deduced the complete sound-poetic material from the structure of formants in the music. Formants are frequency ranges, where the acoustic energy is concentrated, so that the timbre of sung vowels and played instrumental sounds are much more perceptible, regardless of the pitch or frequency. This close physical connection between instrumental and vocal sounds leads back to 19th century’s physician Hermann von Helmholtz who showed a principal relation between the human voice and instrumental timbres. In „Uom Raswékje“, I developed the music from the overtones at the beginning. This manner of overtone-singing might sound like Buddhistic chants, but it’s about the idea of an absolute vocal-music. This means, that the music doesn’t respond to the semantics of the text and fulfills itself. The more the semantics step back, the more the sound of the language emerges and ultimately unites much better with the music. Finally, we take a look at „Geworfene Akrobaten“, for soprano, baritone, flute, clarinet (with bass clarinet), violin and violoncello, based on a poem I wrote myself. In this poem, compared to the sound-poetic works, the semantics returned, but in a different shape. There’s a sort of critical and reflexive detachment, which also tries to be lyrically up to date. In this poem, we find kind of a bluntness in the use of the language, also a strong wording and black humor, as in murder ballads. Each verse raises reflections from the present time, which will be reflected artistically. In this regard, this piece is, like my other works, a reaction to all the precarious states in the present time. In my opinion, when autocrats are getting impertinent and arrogate things that are ethically not justifiable, artists have to react with their means and cannot retreat. Thus, this music gains a sort of urgency, resilience and non-conformance. It is in a sense a critical practice, which should help reconsider deadlocked habits and norms, so that new room can form for further developments.

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