Fritz Vögele, in his monograph on Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) (published by Rowohlt in 1982), views the great American scientist as the epitome of ingenuity and technical progress.

When I was invited to write a short composition for the 25th anniversary of the Institut für Österreichische Musikdokumentation IÖM (Documentary Institute for Austrian Music), I developed together with Gottfried Hinker a computer program for comparing different chords—with the aim of making this painstaking process a lot easier. At the same time, I was trying to conceptualize a formal structure that could generate rational, purely technical functional processes. The result was a modular structure consisting of four-part chords and capable of producing great variability.

The primary concept was to have a kind of mechanical music emerge in nine (three times three) sections within the space of three short movements with seemingly no beginning and no end. By extending this concept in two dimensions, it was necessary on the one hand to arrange the sections in a chromatic order based on an ever-changing fundamental tone, and on the other hand to further develop the modules themselves. An additional impulse was to have a different number of sections and to use a different number of chords in the second movement, and then repeat this same means of variation in the third movement, whereby prime numbers would be given added significance.

I regard this work as my personal memorial to technical progress and to the symbolic figure of T. A. Edison.

The first three molds of the first modular short movement were written in 1998; a fourth mold was added much later, in 2017. A complex rhythmic unit based on tempo relations was used in order to make audible the clear, rational form. The first composition of all three modular short movements was the Fifth Mold for mezzo soprano (vocalise), B-flat clarinet, 2 violins, viola, cello, accordion, and piano, written in 2018. This piece manifests an endeavor to endow the technically alienating harmonic formations (an alienation created by the complex rhythm) with more easily perceivable structures. It was written for the Ensemble Wiener Collage for a concert tour to Israel.

The two remaining movements of the first mold were completed in 2018.

 

Three-movement works:

 

First Mold for violin, guitar, and double bass (1998-2018)

»for the 25th anniversary of the Documentary Institute for Austrian Music«

World premiere of the first module: Vienna, 1998 (Hoboken Hall), performed by Leo Witoszynski, Michael Seifried and René Staar
Duration: 3'30''

Three-movement version (2018)

Duration: 7 minutes

 

Fifth Mold for mezzo soprano (vocalise), B-flat clarinet, 2 violins, viola, cello, accordion, and piano (2018)

Duration: 6'10''

 

Only the first movement completed:

Second Mold for violin, B-flat clarinet, tenor saxophone, and piano (1998)

World premiere: Vienna, 1998 (Karajan Center), performed by Stefan Neubauer, Peter Rohrsdorfer, Johannes Marian and René Staar
Duration: 1 minute

 

Third Mold for String Trio (1998)

World premiere: 27 November 1998 at the Festival of New Music in Lissabon, performed by Tobias Lea, Philipp von Steinaecker and René Staar
Duration: 3'10''

 

Fourth Mold for harp, harpsichord, and guitar (2017)

»for the 30th anniversary of the Ensemble Wiener Collage«

World premiere: 24 April 2018 at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna, performed by the Ensemble Wiener Collage conducted by René Staar.
Duration: 1'45''

2remiere: April 24, 2018 Wien, Arnold Schönberg Center, Ensemble Wiener Collage, René Staar

Duration: 1'45''