THE ELECTRONIC MUSIC IN EASTERN EUROPE
Chapter 6. POLAND AND EAST GERMANY
It is impossible to attempt to compress the musical universe enclosed behind the iron curtain by decades in a single mini-series. A basic approach to the reality of the musical avantgarde in each one of the multiple, rich cultures of this great unknown which is Eastern Europe, nowadays in full development, would need the making of a book. Therefore, this mini-series will only be a brief vision, perforce incomplete, of this avantgarde style sustained on cultures maybe as ancient or even more so than those in the rest of Europe.
Apart from Krysztof Penderecki, the well known forefather of Polish New Music, there are other artists in the new musics with international recognition.
Henryk Gorecki was born in Poland in 1933, and started his career as a composer in the 1950s, revealing himself at once as an innovative artist within orchestral music. In 1979 he had to leave his post as a conductor at the Conservatory of Cracow due to political pressure. In 1981 he composed "Miserere", as a homage to the workers of the at the times clandestine trade union Solidarity, whose premiere was forbidden by the Polish authorities until 1987. Gorecki began to be internationally known especially after the political changes of Eastern Europe.
One of the most awarded electroacoustic composers is Stanislaw Krupowicz, settled in the United States. He has been working there as a professor of the Department of Music at the Center for the Musical Research via Computer, of the University of Stanford, in California. He composes music and designs musical software. In Poland, he studied Mathematics and later music, receiving a diploma with honors on the latter. He carried out post-graduate studies in Germany and wrote music for the cinema and theatre. In my first contact with him, he was about to premiere a concert work commissioned by the Union of Polish Composers.
I also contacted Barbara Zawadzka, a composer with great prestige in the electroacoustic spheres. She studied music tutored by Krysztof Penderecki. Later, she left for France, where she studied electronic music. In 1980 she began to teach music in Cracow. She has received numerous awards and prizes in Poland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, also participating in festivals in China and France. She has composed music for the cinema and theatre. She has collaborated with the IRCAM in France.
Marek Bilinski has succeeded in attaining a well deserved reputation as a synthesist with avantgarde ideas.
Czeslaw Niemen, coming from Rock, has embraced numerous styles.
Wladyslaw Komendarek has been doing Techno music.
Also worthy of mention are musicians Grzegorz Strozniak, Przemyslaw Goc, Marek Klimczuk, Slawomir Kulpowicz, Josef Skrzek, Wojciech Karolak, Janusz Grzywacz, Janusz Skowron, Zbigniew Jakubek and Wladyslaw Sendecki, as well as the duo Up Stream.
In the black market, up to three hundred dollars could be paid for a Klaus Schulze album. The concerts held in Western Berlin could be heard in Eastern Berlin close to the Wall. Berlin, or at the very least Western Berlin, was the cradle of the so-called "Berlinese Electronic Music". In this environment, a musical culture very much influenced by the "electronic wonders" perceived or guessed from the other side was developed. This caused an important amount of synthesists to appear, surpassing that of acoustic avantgarde musicians.
Pond was created as an electronic music duo, with diverse stylistic sides, ranging from atmospheric music to percussive rhythms. Most remarkable is the fact that they wrote the soundtrack for a Chinese television series. This was possible for them to do as they belonged to a Communist country. The music they made for the series received excellent reviews, and it was said that it sounded "far Easterner than that of many Japanese synthesists".
Servi was another electronic duo that achieved remarkable prestige in the former GDR. Having received a scholarly education, their music fusioned German classicism with "German Rock". They have released a number of albums.
Synthesist Reinhard Lakomy became known in the late 1970s. He uses sequencers and keyboards to build rhythmic cosmic music. In the beginning he was compared to the Tangerine Dream of the early 1980s, yet he soon progressed towards a very personal style. He has perhaps been the most prestigious synthesist in Eastern Germany.
Dieter Zobel is a self-taught musician who began to compose when he purchased a Yamaha CX-5. His music is completely disconnected from the music composed in the Western countries. It is a complex mixture of futuristic classicism, medieval ressonances, cosmic textures and experimentation.
Lord Litter is the artistic name of a multifaceted artist highly involved with the Culture of the Cassette. He has a variety of self-released and self-distributed tapes. He has written articles and reviews for American fanzines. He has carried out many other activities, such as directing and presenting a programme on new musics for Radio-100 in Berlin, or being in charge of a record label also devoted to distribution. His university doctoral thesis consisted in a book on the home-taper movement (independent musicians who sell their taped works by mail directly to the audience), and its feasibility as an artistic alternative to official / commercial music.
Moritz Reichelt, the keyboardist of Der Plan (a Hamburg-based band that occupied Kraftwerk's place), comes from Eastern Europe, although he has developed his artistic activity in the Western sector. However, he performed in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Also important is the work of Bayon, a World Music band, centered in the fusion of both Europes, using traditional instruments from the Eastern and Western countries; Unit, a band sited between Jazz and New Age, in a style of electronic World Music; and Rainer Oleak, a synthesist who collaborated with Reinhard Lakomy. Mention must be made as well of guitarist Wolfgang Paulke, Julius Krebs, Jorn Kanitz and Hans-Hasso Stamer.
(By: JORGE MUNNSHE)
For more information about the available releases by those artists and sound clips, use these links:
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