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Kagel, Mauricio Raúl (1931–)

Mauricio Raúl Kagel (b. 24 December 1931), Argentine composer who became a naturalized German citizen. He was born in Buenos Aires. At the University of Buenos Aires he studied literature and philosophy until 1955. He trained with private instructors, most notably with Juan Carlos Paz. For a few years he worked as a pianist and conductor for opera preparation at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In 1957 he moved to Germany where he studied with Werner Meyer-Eppler at the Institute for Research in Phonetics and Communications in Bonn. His career developed rapidly as a composer, conductor, writer, and lecturer. He founded the Cologne Ensemble for New Music in 1961.

Since 1965, Kagel has written for what is now called "musical theater," and he has written and directed his own films. His early compositions, written while he was still living in his native country, were very pitch conscious and precisely structured. The String Sextet (1953, revised 1957) uses polymetric rhythms and microtonal writing. His more experimental Musique de tour for tape with light projections (1953), required a light system projected from a steel tower and sound broadcast from twenty-four loudspeakers. Other influential compositions by Kagel include Anagrama for spoken choir, four soloists, and chamber orchestra (1957–1958), based on a palindrome by Dante; Transición no. 1 for electronic music (1958–1960); and Transición no. 2 for piano and tape recorder (1958–1959). Theatrical components became very important in his works Sur scène for instrumental theater (1959–1960); Pandorasbox for bandoneon, a type of accordion (1960–1962); Ludwig van (1970), a homage to Beethoven that appeared in several versions, including a German television film and a recorded version with Kagel's ensemble playing distorted music of Beethoven; and Staatstheater (1970), the prototype of a veritable anti-opera.

Other significant works by Kagel include Match for two cellos and percussion (1964); Tremens, instrumental theater for two actors and electronically amplified instruments (1963–1965); Pas de cinq, variable scenes for five actors (1965); Music for Renaissance Instruments (1965–1967); Halleluja for voices (1967–1968); Atem for one wind instrument, tape recorder, and two loudspeakers (1970); Con voce for three silent players (1972); Zwei Mann Orchester for two performers (1971–1973); 1898 for children's choir (1972); Mare nostrum for contralto, baritone, and chamber ensemble (1973); Exotica for non-European instruments (1972); Die Mutation for children's voices and piano obbligato (1971); Siegfriedp for cello (1971); Bestiarium sound fable for three actors, bird calls and other objects, and tape (1974); Die Umkehrung Amerikas (1975–1976), a radio play; Unguis incarnatus est for piano (1972); Morceau de concours for solo trumpet and tape (1971), a competition piece; Variationen ohne Fuge for orchestra and two actors, Brahms and Handel (1971–1972); Tango alemán for bandoneon (1978); Vox humana? cantata for narrator, choir, and orchestra (1979); Rrrrrr … a radio fantasy for different instrumental combinations (1982); Pan for piccolo flute and string quartet (1985); Ein Brief for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1986); Zwei Akte for saxophone and harp (1988–1989); Les idées fixes, rondo for orchestra (1989); and Der Windrose for salon orchestra (1988).

Films written and directed by Kagel include Antithèse (1965); Match (1966); Solo (1966–1967); Duo (1968); Halleluja (1967–1968); Sous tension (1975); Blue's Blue (1981); and Dressage (1985). He also wrote the music for the film MM51 (1977).

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


Rodolfo Arizaga, Enciclopedia de la música argentina (1971), pp. 187-188; "Dossier Kagel," in Musique en jeu, no. 7 (1972): 98-100, 113, 117-123.

John Vinton, ed., Dictionary of Contemporary Music (1974). pp. 386-387.

Gérard Béhague, Music in Latin America: An Introduction (1979), pp. 337-338.

Alcides Lanza, "Music Theatre: A Mixed Media Realization of Kagel's 'Ludwig van,'" in Interface 8 (1979): 237-248; New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Heile, Björn. The Music of Mauricio Kagel. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.

Karolyi, Otto. Modern American Music: from Charles Ives to the Minimalists. London: Cygnus Arts; Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996.

Lochhead, Judith Irene, and Joseph Henry Auner. Postmodern Music/Postmodern Thought. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Surrans, Alain. Mauricio Kagel: Parcours avec l'orchestre. Paris: L'Arche, 1993.

Tadday, Ulrich. Mauricio Kagel. München: Edition Text, 2004.

                                             Alcides Lanza

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Kagel, Mauricio Raúl (1931–)

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