Composer Anestis Logothetis (1921-1994) lived in post-war Vienna and distinguished himself as a member of Actionism. He influenced the Viennese art circles as he experimented with new sound media, anticipating the so-called “acousmatic” perception of sound, a concept used ten years later. He is also one of a group of avant-garde composers, together with Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, Sylvano Bussotti, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati and John Cage, who were the first to introduce visual symbols into a new musical notation in the 1950s. Logothetis in particular, through his own characteristic system of notation, created ‘polymorphic music’ – as he termed it himself – with “graphic” scores. He developed a “multimedia” notation system that should be perceived as a cybernetic interaction of current data. His understanding of cybernetics is expressed in the projection of graphic scores in space and in the independent alternation of interaction among performers, which was based on a score.
He was born of Greek parents on 27 October 1921 in Pyrgos, Eastern Rumelia, on the Black Sea (Burgas, Bulgaria today). After the Neuilly Convention, in 1934, the family moved to Thessaloniki where he graduated from the German School. In 1942, he left Greece due to the Second World War and settled in Vienna in order to study. He started as a student of engineering at the Vienna Polytechnic, but he soon turned to music and changed to composition in 1945. He studied at the Vienna Academy of Music under Alfred Uhl and Erwin Ratz (theory and composition), Hermann Schwermann (piano) and Hans Swarowsky (orchestra conducting), graduating with distinction in 1951. He attended seminars and devoted himself to composition in Rome, on a scholarship from the Austrian Cultural Institute in 1956 and 1958-59, receiving a total of ten scholarships, mainly from the Austrian government. For a number of years (1955, 1957, 1960, 1962-65), he participated in the international summer seminars for modern music in Darmstadt, where he became acquainted with such composers and musicologists as J. Cage, E. Brown and B. Maderna, who influenced his views on music and consequently his work. As early as 1957 he started experimenting on sound in the WDR Studio of Gottfried Michael Koenig in Cologne, which resulted in the first electroacoustic composition in Austria, FANTASMATA. Following his preference for the use of innovative means for musical production, in 1981 he composed the work WELLENFORMEN with a computer in the EMS studio in Stockholm.
Collaborations: KATARAKT in 1960 with Otto Mühl, MEDITATION in 1961 for the work “Aktion Perinetgasse” by Hermann Nietsch, IDENTIFIKATION with his brother Stathis Logothetis for the “Europalia” festival in Brussels in 1982 etc.
The total of his musical output is divided in two periods: the first, during which the composer wrote 65 works in conventional notation with various combinations of instruments and orchestrations, and the second, where his works are presented in his own ‘graphic’ notation, a system that he had been working on since 1950, though it appears for the first time in 1959 in the drafts of his work STRUKTUR-TEXTUR-SPIEGEL-SPIEL. He composed works for orchestral ensembles, electronic and multimedia music as well as many radio operas (Hörspiele) for NDR, SR, ORF, SWR and WDR. In 1974 he published his essay: “Zeichen als Aggregatzustände der Musik” (Jugend und Volk Publications, Vienna; republished in the book Anestis Logothetis Klangbild und Bildklang, Lafite Publications, Vienna 1998).
Logothetis received the ‘Theodor Körner’ Award twice (1960, 1963), and First Prize (Ex Aequo with I. Xenakis) at the Doxiadis Athens Technological Institute (A.T.I.) music contest of 1962, sponsored by M. Hadjidakis. He also received a Recognition Award from the City of Vienna in 1985, the Medal of Honour of the City of Vienna in 1986, an honorary award from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Sports in 1989 (commission of his works DAIDALIA ODER DAS LEBEN EINER THEORIE and his last long multimedia opera AUS WELCHEM MATERIAL IST DER STEIN VON SISYPHOS); in 1993, he received the ‘Floriana’ Award for the relation between Speech and Music in his work MANTRATELLURIUM.
Numerous concerts as well as exhibitions of his graphic scores have taken place since 1964 not only in Europe but also in the USA, Japan, Korea and India.
He died of cancer in Vienna on 6 January 1994.
(Composer, PhD Candidate in Musicology – National
and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
[English translation by Helena Grigorea]
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