The Zodiak program
opens with compositions for mechanical piano written by the singular Conrad Schnitzler, who died, sadly, on 4th August last year, at the age of 74. Schnitzler – a seaman, industrial labourer, student of Beuys and Stockhausen, autodidact, co-founder of Kluster (with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius), sometimes member of Tangerine Dream, and incorrigible experimentalist, was a source of inspiration for numerous later artists. A pioneer of new musical forms, he ranked among the first adepts to recognize and consistently explore the potential of the synthesizer. His non-conformist, experimental bent made him a key figure in an unorthodox free form of electronic music, and hence one of the foremost figures of the electronic avant-garde in Germany.
Schnitzler, who called himself a "sound labourer" was a trailblazer of 70s industrial culture, DIY electro-acoustics, the post-punk of the 80s and, finally, of electronica and the post-everything experiments of today. However, he personally steered clear of movements, categories and the dominant zeitgeist, was happy to not belong, and eschewed the conventions of the established worlds of art and music. Schnitzler also kept out of the public eye and gave no concerts in the last decades of his life. Yet he was all the more productive for that, and continued until the end of his days to delight friends and fans worldwide with gifts of his untiring stream of sounds and notes on homemade CD-Rs. While his experiments thus spread like wildfire in mysterious ways, Conrad Schnitzler pursued a hermit lifestyle on the edge of Berlin, in his studio at Dallgow-Döberitz – lastingly and irrefutably a man unto himself.
The piano as well as the synthesizer held infinite fascination for Schnitzler. For more than a decade he devoted himself to producing an abundance of material for the disklavier, a computer-powered classical piano able to play notes and pedals independently. These compositions outstrip human capacity to play and fathom the instrument’s full potential. Excerpts from this work have been presented to date only once, in May 2005 at the Berlin gallery, Zero, and are documented on the albums Piano Works Vol. I
(Individuelle Mythologie, 1997), and Klavierhelm
(Important Records, 2006). They can be heard once again in the framework of Piano Works (Disklavier), a concert installation of several hours’ duration. The orphaned piano leaves room for the presence of Conrad Schnitzler and simultaneously symbolizes the gap left by the death of this free spirit, who was still full of projects and plans.
An intermezzo courtesy of Wolfgang Seidel, a long-standing friend and associate of Conrad Schnitzler, and the Free Arts Lab, a changing line-up of artists, will summon the spirit of The Zodiak and perpetuate it in free improvisation. For this nights performance, the Free Arts Lab will feature: Anat Cohavi (IL), Klaus Kürvers (DE), Simon Rose (UK), Wolfgang Seidel (DE), Els Vandeweyer (BE).
Conrad Schnitzler’s official fan website: › fancymoon.com/con_s
With the kind support of Yamaha Pianoworld
& René George Klaviere