Portrait Georg Nussbaumer (Composer)

There is a lot going on in Austria’s contemporary music scene.  Mainly responsible for this development is a new generation of composers, who expand the spectrum of contemporary music with many never-before-heard facets. In the coming weeks mica – music austria wants to honor these young Austrian composers with a series of portraits, beginning  with the Upper Austrian composer Georg Nussbaumer.

There is hardly anything that George Nussbaumer does not turn into music. For instance, instruments that are not played with a bow, but with a deer antler, a urinal, which is reminiscent of Duchamp’s ready-mades, or red chewing gum, which is chewed by singers and is formed in their mouths into a certain body part. The starting points for Nussbaumer’s limit-busting compositions, performances and installations are the analysis of human behavior and mythological materials, as well as the tonal study of various objects. If Nussbaumer claims the piano as a symbol of the black continent, it is not only the black color and the shape of the piano observed from the top which makes a point.

The meaning is deeply political, when a white piano player virtuosically performs on this instrument. Many a time, simple objects fall into the compositions of Nussbaumer. Whenever performers throw stones in a pond or, as at the opening of the Styrian Autumn 2006, bones, bells, gun parts and other objects obey the law of gravity and drop into plexiglass containers, Nussbaumer never relies on coincidence, but has developed specific scores, which are adapted to the respective situation. The audience is also integrated, for example in his composition „Die schönsten Gipfel der Alpen“  (in English: the most beautiful peaks of the Alps), which is performed by the audience who have sticks to hit on tuning forks, which hang from the ceiling in the form of a mountain. Nussbaumer has proved himself as a guarantor of  new listening experiences.


Doris Weberberger
translated from the German by Doris Miyung Brady