Portrait: Peter Androsch (Composer)

Peter Androsch is a prolific Austrian composer of numerous styles and genres, who last year, for the Linz European Cultural Capital 2009 celebrations, took on a different hat as artistic director of the category “music” and found himself discussing noise free zones and political acoustics.  It is difficult to provide a worthy overview of Androsch’s activities, where he has been passionately involved in the artistic life of Linz for many years, where he has lived since 1969, after being born in Wels in 1963.

As artistic director of music for Linz 09 with the project “Hörstadt” – “Hear-city”, Androsch managed to politicize the extensive use of background music and the constant place it has for both consumers and employees, with often adverse affects.  Similar to a smoking ban, Androsch approached the problem of extensive sound found in shops and branches for everyday customers resulting now with 2000 shops and over 200 branches of the Austrian Bank nationally sound-free.  To highlight the remarkable difference of silent spaces, a cathedral in Linz was set up with an invitation to sit back in specially designed chairs to relax in the silence.  Androsch is now seeking to further implement this initiative internationally.

Androsch’s first studies were in social and political economics alongside his study of the guitar (instrumental and jazz) at the Anton Bruckner Private University Linz (formerly Bruckner Conservatorium) but he quickly found himself directing and contributing to several ensembles, including Ensemble Camorra, Monochrome Bleu, Soundso where he was involved in international touring.  He continued studies in Vienna at the University of Music and Performing Arts with the Austro-Mechana Composition Course with Mathias Rüegg, a notable jazz musician and founder of the Vienna Art Orchestra.  From 1987-1991 he was active as a cultural journalist (Falter, Wochenpresse und AZ/OÖ) and from 1994-97 he was active in the union for Art, Media, Sport contributing as a specialist to the “composers” group.

The list of awards and commissions to Androsch is many and varied, from Ars Electronica, Wiener Festwochen to the Wega-Film Vienna and he even has his own “phonographical society” which is dedicated to preserving the manuscripts and extensive graphical notations which he uses to compose.  Peter Androsch is published by Doblinger in Vienna and as his output is impressively varied, he has published numerous CD’s and genres including Opera/Music Theatre, Orchestral, Chamber Music, Stage& Ballet Music, Choral, Film music and Electroacoustic works.

To gain insight into his compositional strategies let’s take, for example, one of Androsch’s electroacoustic pieces, Aus dem Leben der Libelle, (From the Life of the Dragonfly), (commission from Brucknerhaus Linz), a 4-channel piece for two parallel operating CD drives.  As Androsch describes, by replicating the processes of organic systems, in the sense that he bases the arrangement on the natural tone row, represented as a series of decreasing integral fractions, he takes  samples from works by Kurtag, Stockhausen and himself, which are chosen according to atmospheric considerations, where the “developmental space” is defined through an echo and delay time derived from the natural tone row.

Androsch’s larger works include stage music to Clockwork Orange, film music to Andreas Gruber’s Hasenjagd, and opera titled Geschnitzte Heiligkeit. Anton Bruckner und die Frauen(1996), Oper Zeichner im Schnee (2001), An wen soll ich schreiben?  An Gott?(2001), stage music to a piece from Karl Fallend, and in 2007, Die listige Witwe, with the Linz Eisenhandtheater.  To further expound, Die listige Witwe, is a crime story operetta with a libretto from Silke Dörner, a commission from the Landestheaters in Linz. The title is a wordplay from Franz Lehar where the merry widow becomes  a “cunning” one.  The piece is based on a criminal case which uses irony and humour, set in a sound sculpture which brings forward the qualities of Silke Dörner’s libretto, both underlining and counteracting with elegant and musical subtleties and on the other hand a rigid rhythmical chant takes hold.  The instrumentation is sparse but imaginative and curious, 2 sopranos, 2 tenors a baritone and bass are plotted against a piano, accordion and a double bass.
Tamara Friebel