German-Argentine composer Mauricio Kagel’s Zwei-Mann-Orchester (Two-Man Orchestra) for two one-man orchestras is considered as one of the strangest pieces of contemporary music every composed. The sound is created by using more than 200 broken, battered and discarded instruments and dysfunctional sound-generators. After its premiere in 1973, it is now produced for the third time and performed in the Museum Tinguely in Basel by Wilhelm Bruck and Matthias Würsch. This video documents the presentation on April 23, 2011.
Mauricio Kagel’s Zwei-Mann-Orchester premièred at the Donauseschingen Festival in 1973. Kagel and his musicians, Wilhelm Bruck and Theodor Ross, surprised their audience with large apparatus composed of more than 200 “instruments”. They were played with the aid of strings, rods, levers and other movable elements. “The traditional instrumental body of the renowned festival that had commissioned the work – the orchestra – was reflected in a caricature raised to the level of sound-art” (excerpt from the press release).
In 1992, the Zwei-Mann-Orchester was presented in a second version at the Kassel Documenta IX. Now, almost twenty years later, it is produced for the third time in Basel as part of a joint project involving the Paul Sacher Foundation, the Hochschule für Musik Basel, and the Museum Tinguely. Wilhelm Bruck has played Mauricio Kagel’s music since the 1960s and is now building and playing the new orchestral machine for the third time. This time, he his accompanied by Matthias Würsch, a professor of percussion at the Basel Academy of Music and a multi-instrumentalist of international stature.
Mauricio Kagel: Zwei-Mann-Orchester (Two-Man Orchestra) at Museum Tinguely, Basel. Performed by Wilhelm Bruck and Matthias Würsch, April 23, 2011.
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Full-length video (68:33 Min.):