All shall have prizes: it’s Olga’s turn

All shall have prizes: it’s Olga’s turn


norman lebrecht

April 04, 2019

The Kaske Foundation award to a living composer goes this year to Olga Neuwirth.

It’s worth 10,000 Euros and a November night out in Munich.

Ms Neuwirth is writing an opera for Vienna.



  • John Borstlap says:

    These are two absurd pieces of news.

    To begin with, Ms Neuwirth’s works are a specimen of the most awful noise art ever invented – that is, apart from Xenakis:

    It’s ‘well-done’ in the way a root canal treatment or a cancer operation can be well-done. There is no aesthetic awareness present, not even some residu of artistic attempt.

    It’s sonic art, and also pretentious rubbish. You don’t even have to be ‘conservative’ to hear that. Also it is extremely conventional, harking back to half a century ago when this stuff was presented as ‘new’ and ‘progressive’, a musically dark period indeed. Repeating it today is reactionary to the extreme. What does it contribute to culture, to society, to civilisation? To a better understanding of the world, of the human condition? Merely asking such questions show the level on which such parasitic art ‘operates’.

    When she writes for the theatre, it’s just silly:

    Second, that Ms Neuwirth thinks that her work is suited to something like opera, would be utterly humoristic if it were not so sad. No doubt, regie-oper directors will love her opera, they deserve each other.

    It is not music, but a sonic plaything of an establishment that has its mind still stuck in the dark hole of the sixties of the last century. A musical audience won’t be interested, but that does not matter, since such art is kept-up by artificial means.

    I always think that when women have a go at sonic art, they try to outdo their male peers in terms of nonsense and aggression, to avoid any association with female occupations like needlework, sensitivity or breast feeding. I’m sure Freud would have some poignant things to say about the phenomenon.

    • Steve says:

      Gosh, didn’t see that coming!

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      The misogynism at the end is a lovely coda to the expected reactionary rant. Well done!

    • The link to her theater work you list, Aello – ballet mécanomorphe, is actually very interesting and unusual music. Wonderfully humorous too. To be a bit more factual, perhaps you should check in with her about how she feels about breast feeding and needlework….

      • John Borstlap says:

        For a musical work to be good, there is more needed than being interesting or unusual or humorous, since these are not artistic categories….. That ‘ballet’ is merely mecanomorphic.

      • John Borstlap says:

        We had her on the phone today protesting that there was nothing wrong with her needlework and that it calmed her after a session of hard composing work. And that she did not want to be criticised by silly old fogeys who have no idea of modern times and had not even understood the great leap forwards that happened in the fifties and sixties and wanted to cling to crazy museum aesthetics of even much older fogeys. She sounded quite angry and was so loud I had to keep the phone at some distance. Sometimes I want to look elsewhere for a job in spite of all that feminism in music life.