'Active Agony’ within Wolfgang Rihm’s Tutuguri and the 4th String Quartet

McGregor, Richard ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6685-2589 (2011) 'Active Agony’ within Wolfgang Rihm’s Tutuguri and the 4th String Quartet. In: EuroMac VII European Music Analysis Conference, 29 September - 2 October 2011, Rome, Italy. (Unpublished)

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Wolfgang Rihm’s mature output has always betrayed a tangible and formative connection with other forms of artistic expression, to the extent that he effectively speaks of himself as a sculptor of sound. The successive particular influence in the 70s and early 80s of Kurt Kocherscheidt and Arnulf Rainer in the visual arts and Antonin Artaud in dramaturgy have been variously explored, at least in relation to the works from the mid 80s onwards. One work, Tutuguri, has been called a “border crossing point” in his creative development but it perhaps should thought of rather as the place where Rihm engaged in a more overt struggle to make his creative compositional processes more like those of visual artists. Rihm’s subsequent poetics, and the commentary of others, has tended perhaps to obscure the formative nature of his compositional thinking between late 1980 and 1982 during the composition of Tutuguri and the 4th String Quartet, and therefore to overlook his developing responses to other art forms which influenced his writing at that time. In focusing, for example, on Rihm’s “worked out” musical processes of the late 80s and 90s which are directly comparable and analogous to Rainer’s technique of “Overpainting”, earlier “premonitions” in Tutuguri and the 4th Quartet in particular may have been overlooked, in favour of connections with Artaud even though these are not always necessarily obvious in the music. Underpinning this struggle was the tension between the imaginary and the symbolic where the spontaneous imagination found itself at odds with the need to write the music out symbolically, a state which Rihm refers to as the “active agony” caused by the “comprehensive conflict of material and imagination”. This struggle can be illustrated through consideration of some of the tensions inherent in the 4th Quartet which Rihm, writing on the occasion of its first performance in 1983, described as a «late-comer and at the same time a precursor». In Tutuguri these tensions are evident throughout through the collision between the influential art forms of Rainer/Artaud and Rihm’s idea of ‘Musicblocks’, as expressed in his essay Ins eigene Fleisch. The resulting musical gestures can be directly and metaphorically related to “the blow of the chisel, the brushes” and these connections have not been extensively explored for the various works which constitute the Tutuguri “cycle”. This paper explores some of the complex interconnections of artistic ideas that are to be found in Rihm’s two major works of 1981-82, focusing in particular on Tutuguri parts I, VI, III and the 4th String Quartet, relating some of the essential generative conceptual ideas which inform them to examples of musical gestures and “setting” in the aforementioned works. By suggesting ways in which the actual musical materials in these compositions can be construed, our understanding of the development of these ideas in Rihm’s later music can be deepened.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Education (IOE) > Non-Initial Teacher Education (Non-ITE)
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2018 15:24
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 10:16
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3560


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