Beyond Verfransung: Reflection of Interdisciplinary Cultural Phenomenon in Mauricio Kagel's Antithese für einen Darsteller mit elektronischen + öffentlichen Klängen (1962)
Don Wright Faculty of Music The University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, CANADA
In the face of trans-boundary between art genres, where technical, material, and theoretical concepts of musical composition are now partly hybridized with those of other fields in art and vice versa, Theodor W. Adorno analyzes the ongoing upheaval with a catchword Verfransung [infringement or straying off course]. This term first appeared in an essay Die Kunst und die Künste (1966) [Art and the Arts]. While his insightful observation with profundity of aesthetic thought depicts well the early phase of the interdisciplinary phenomenon and its process, analyses for that of musical composition leave debatable issues worth reconsidering. Already four years earlier than the publication of this essay, an Argentinean-German composer Mauricio Kagel presented a significant interdisciplinary musical work Antithese for one performer with electronic and public sounds (1962) where upon his compositional concept exceeds the framework of Adorno's conception of Verfransung of arts. Consisting of electronic music, acting on stage, and graphic notation, Antithese synthesizes these components from different art genres without losing their individual identities, and the synthesis forms a unity of the work. Kagel's brief explanation of the structural characteristic that "anarchy is omnipresent" is a striking, pregnant description that allows us to examine the relevancy of his "anarchy in music" in relation to Adorno's perception of Verfransung tendency of the arts. Taking into account innovative aspects of Antithese as a harbinger of new musical structure and form with interdisciplinary compositional approach, this study attempts to identify omnipresent anarchic characters both in the material and aesthetic domains. I will also demonstrate through an analysis the structural design that attains the unity of these characteristic components. Finally, these analyses will substantiate how Kagel's creative force with sharp cultural observations from a perspective of anarchy provides incentive for developing a new musical form and how different the aesthetic direction of the composer is from that of Adorno, with regard to the chaotic phenomenon of frontier crossing of art genres.