concert and discussion
BMC Library

Wortlaute II.

The program curated by Nicolaus Gerszewski embraces a spectrum of contemporary vocal music, within a timespan from 1983 to 2020.

The program curated by Nikolaus Gerszewski (The Prague Experiment) embraces a spectrum of contemporary vocal music, with a timespan from 1983 to 2020. Each of the three composers applies their own procedures, based on self-imposed rules and self-determined objectives. In some cases this even leads to original notation forms, resulting in the performer’s considerable participation in shaping the music. The common ground is a concentration on the sonic qualities of the text material, whereby speech sound becomes musical sound.


In culmination we have invited the poet Katalin Ladik, who approaches the same territory from the other direction; by extending her linguistic material into vocal expressivity. Her performance leads into the borderline area of spoken word and music, where it consolidates to a medium in its own right.


Nikolaus Gerszewski’s work, More Songs on Nothing, is a piece consisting of mobile modules, examining the relationship between constant and temporary, or rather, between composition and interpretation. The piece has ten un-arranged pages, in which the pianist and the singer – in this case, Bálint Baráth and Lenke Kovács – can combine at will, according to some predetermined rules.


The vocal solo piece of Christoph Herndler is an hommage to the Hungarian composer Zoltán Jeney, who passed away in October 2019. The composition, entitled Eléneklem a neved (I Sing Your Name), makes use of Herndler’s distinctive notation graphics style, which differs from more conventional graphic notation in that it does not represent the sounds, but rather the structure of the composition. In this way, it reveals the pure form of the work, in this case that the sound material is based on the phonemes of a pre-selected name. The Transparent Sound Festival commissioned Christoph Herndler to apply his notation graphics to Zoltán Jeney’s name to create a new work, the third piece of this evening.


The concert ends with three pieces from Zoltán Jeney’s 1983 12 dalénekhangra hegedűre és zongorára (12 songs – for voice violin and piano) cycle, which was inspired by the poems of e.e.cummings and Sándor Weöres. Both the creation year and the composition techniques of these songs differentiates them from the other works on the programme, as they are traditionally notated and require less ’co-composing’ from the performers. Nevertheless, interpreting the songs still poses a significant challenge.


Apart from the concert, an exhibition of Christoph Herndler’s notation graphics will also be available to the public in OMA (Ordinary Music Archives).


photo: Noémi Szécsi


  • Katalin Ladik: Ha múlna e láng
  • Nikolaus Gerszewski: New Songs on Nothing (2019-20)
  • Christoph Herndler: I SING YOUR NAME – ZOLTÁN JENEY (2020)


  • Nikolaus Gerszewski
  • The Prague Experiment


  • Ensemble Mobile
    • Lenke Kovács - soprano
    • Eszter Krulik - violin
    • Bálint Baráth - piano
  • Katalin Ladik - performance