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Orpheus Instituut

The Performer-Composer in the second half of the 20 th century

Performer-Composer conference

10-12 October 2022

In the beginning was the performer, can logically be argued, but when thinking of a performer who also composes, most often we turn this relationship on its head and call that musician a “composer-performer”. Nevertheless, though much of the classical music history has long been aware of this double identity, and despite the research possibilities in this realm engendered by developments in audio and video recording technology and software for analysing their outputs, this field has attracted little more than incidental academic attention. Performer-composers in particular from the post-WWII generation, a particularly diverse range of personalities including Boulez, Stockhausen, Brown, Tudor, Rzewski, Finnissy, Holliger, Globokar, and many others, have been neglected.

Beyond simple notions of idiomatic writing, or of the ethics involved in judging composers as professional  performers, questions abound as to how exactly composition and performance interrelate when expressed “in one”. Anton Webern’s own historically conditioned performance practice has revealed how shallow stylistic assumptions can be when based on the score alone, and how performance aesthetics are not necessarily synchronous with compositional advances. Can we extrapolate and extend such findings when evaluating music that is more experimentally composed, including that aimed perhaps at pushing the boundaries of stage practices, possibly in more than one discipline? Can we discern particular characteristics in composers’ approaches to interpretation, including sensibilities they bring to the process of interpreting the works of others? Might or should performers feel bound by the composer’s own performance(s)?

This conference seeks to investigate the creative duality of the one-wo/man performer-composer from the perspectives of artistic research, performance studies, and historical musicology, focussing on the second half of the 20th century, and looking for a variety of interests.

Confirmed keynote speakers: You Nakai and Ian Pace.

The full schedule and the registration procedure can be found here:

Deadline for registration: 3 October 2022. Max. 45 participants are allowed.




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