Do It By Hand
In the ’70s, I was allowed to go to Poland for some years. Then, I was stopped, I was not allowed anymore in the ’80s. And so, I went to Warsaw Autumn to hear pieces. And I have to confess, I was even impressed by Penderecki in this time. Now not so much, but this time I was very deep impressed.
And so, I tried to find out what kind of music could be interesting for me. And in my time in — during my studies in Dresden I missed often my lessons, because I was in the library, and copied scores by hand, because a copy machine — in East Germany, to find a copy machine was much more difficult than to find a machine gun. It was easier to get this than a copy machine.
And so, everything you wanted to copy, you had to do it by hand.1 And so, I sat down hours and hours to copy music, and had my own impression how it could sound. I copied the scores from Cage, and it looked very interesting. But I had no idea how it could sound. I copied things and had no idea how it could sound. But then I found it could be an interesting idea to have a piece with only one single pitch.
And so, I thought well, I shall try it out, what happens if you do a piece with only one single pitch. And so, by doing things for yourself and copy things, I tried to become a little bit more acquainted with contemporary music. But there was a real great gap between what you could see in the score, and what you could hear. And I learned this, especially when I met John Cage in East Berlin in 1990.2
It was very — for me, it was a great thing to meet him; a man who made – who run the new music in the Deutschlandfunk in Köln, made this connection. He knew that Cage will come to Germany in 1990, and so he asked me what — if it is a good idea to bring Cage to East Berlin? And I said oh yes, it’s a great idea. And we made a little festival for Cage in the summer of 1990 with a great music circus in East Berlin, and I made an organ concert for John, Satie and Schoenberg, and his piece Harmony of Maine. And I had a lot of discussions with him, and we changed letters in this time. We had also the idea to make a book about his experiences in Eastern Europe.
He was in Petersburg, in former times, Leningrad, in ’88, and met a lot of Russians there. And then these — he went in East Berlin, and I wanted to know from him how his — how this experience changed his view of the world, and because he said to me, his world was from West Berlin to Japan. And what is between West Berlin and Japan, the whole Russia and Eastern Europe did not exist for him until the end of the ’80s. And this was a real newer experience for him. So, we had the idea to discuss this in a book. But for me, it was so important to meet him to understand how his music worked, and how this music is to be performed.