Between 1854 (aged ten) and 1872, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a substantial number of musical compositions, including fragmentary pieces for solo piano, several songs, an uncompleted mass, and even a sketched opera. His activity as a composer remains essentially unknown, and his music pieces are rarely performed. A great admirer of Richard Wagner and profoundly influenced by the thought of Arthur Schopenhauer, Nietzsche-the-composer (a very young Nietzsche) understood music as an oceanic field of uncontrolled feelings and emotions, of which the composer was the “medium”, an agent passively dominated by transcendent powers of inspiration and creation. In this sense, Nietzsche’s musical compositions disclose a character and a personality substantially different from the far better-known Nietzsche-the-philosopher. Whereas Nietzsche-the-philosopher was a destabilising constructor, the inventor of new images of thought, the active operator of a fundamental redefinition of values, Nietzsche-the-composer appears deeply rooted in, and submitted to pre-existing, gregarious values. For Nietzsche, music had the problematic potential of carrying an “oppressive weight”—an expression he openly used to refer to one of his compositions, and, later on, to Wagner’s music in general. A weight he increasingly associated with the idea of “swimming”, to which he proactively opposed the notion of “dancing”.

In the artistic research project NietzscheN, the ME21 Collective presents musical compositions by Nietzsche in dialogue with fragments of his texts, with pieces by other composers related to his life, and with reflections on artistic research today.


            Paulo de Assis | concept and piano

           Michael Schwab | concept and voice


        Juan Parra C. | audio and video projection, live electronics

      Lucia D'Errico | audio and video projection, graphics

   Valentin Gloor | voice

Marlene Monteiro Freitas | dance

A N   A R T I S T I C   R E S E A R C H   P R O J E C T  

B Y   M u s i c E x p e r i m e n t 2 1

Nietzsche1: an in-progress presentation on 30 April 2014 to the fellows of the Orpheus Research Centre in Music in Ghent, BE.


Nietzsche2 — Das ‘Fragment an sich’: presented as part of the III Congreso Internacional de Epistemología y Metodología ‘Nietzsche y la Ciencia’ on 9 May 2014 at the Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires, AR.


Nietzsche 3: Radical Epistemology (Michael Schwab): Proceedings of the III Congreso Internacional de Epistemología y Metodología.

Nietzsche 4: Fragments of a Musical Discourse (Paulo de Assis). Proceedings of the III Congreso Internacional de Epistemología y Metodología.


Nietzsche 5 : The Fragmentary: article published in Ruukku journal, representing a development from Nietzsche1 and Nietzsche2, which did not discuss the fragmentary. Most recordings were specifically realised for this submission.


Nietzsche #6: The Weight of Music: performance presented at SCORES: PHILOSOPHY ON STAGE #4 at the Tanzquartier Vienna, 28 November 2015. This conference is part of the research project Artist Philosophers: Philosophy as Arts-Based Research (Arno Böhler, University for Applied Arts Vienna, AT).

Nietzsche6+1: two screens video installation after Nietzsche #6. Presented at the international conference on Deleuze and Artistic Research DARE 2017 (Oprheus Institute, Ghent, BE).