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MythiMedia // Radio&TV // From Odysseus to Prometheus: F. M. Einheit’s Hörspiele

From Odysseus to Prometheus: F. M. Einheit's Hörspiele by Elisabetta Zoni

In the space of just one slipped beat of the
tongue
there is big bang and total entropy
From red giants to white dwarfs
The whole scale
Cosmic dimensions are falling
Out of my mouth

[...] Between microphone and macrocosm
Between chaos and no course
Between plankton and philosophia
Between Semtex and utopia [...]

Between Genesis and sixsixsix [...]

I wade through the filth of
Mighty metaphors
Meta meta by meter

With gestures far too wide (1).

These lines from the vocal piece “Die Interimsliebenden” (1993) by Einstürzende Neubauten, perfectly summarize the themes that have emerged from my research on the Greek myth in F. M. Einheit (pseudonym of Frank Martin Strauss, born 1958). Einheit was, along with Blixa Bargeld (pseudonym of Christian Emmerich, born 1959, voice and lyricist), one of the members – the “sonic soul”, as it were (or better the ‘heartbeat’ as he himself likes to think of his role as a percussionist), of this historical German experimental group, from 1986 to 1996, when he left the project, and pursued his own radical research on the innovation of sound language independently.

The words I emphasized recall the basic ideas and the language of the two works by F. M. Einheit I will deal with - the Prometheus suite and Odysseus 7  (“Radio-Space-Opera in 24 Gesängen”, a radio space opera in 24 cantos). The song lyrics refer to a couple of ‘interim’ lovers. But the fleetingness of love is also a clear hint at the mystery of the transitory, ephemeral ‘becoming’ that is music itself. Although is condenses the whole cosmos, and the whole human universe, in one single beat, music disappears as soon as it is heard, without leaving a trace, and can never be captured again.

Thus music, allied with the voice and the word/language (beat of the tongue, microphone, metaphor), is the mirror, the reflection of a constantly evolving universe, of its birth and of its future end (big bang, entropy, chaos, Genesis, red giants and white dwarfs), of the evolution of the species, from the simplest life forms to the achievements of the human mind (from plankton to philosophia) and, finally, of utopia, of the adventure of human knowledge.
As I will show in the discussion below, these are the universal themes most of F. M. Einheit’s production deals with.

1. A unique musician

F. M. Einheit (also known as FM Einheit) is an experimental musician and composer who currently works in the fields of industrial music and electronic music. He was born in Dortmund in 1958. As a child, he did not receive any kind of musical education. His earliest music experiences started in the mid-Seventies, with punk groups such as Abwärts and Palais Schaumburg. The anarchist esthetic vision of punk, characterized by spontaneity and expressive freedom, boosted his natural interest in experimenting with unique sounds and noises. Einheit often recalls that “Essentially, I ended up making a great deal of noise to enjoy the silence in between”.(2) Einheit’s own esthetic view is actually a dialog between sound/noise and silence, between music and pauses, between fullness and emptiness, where both elements enjoy the same status. The lack of norms and compositional rules, far from being a disadvantage, allows Einheit to move with the greatest possible freedom within the field of acoustic experimentation.

From 1981 to 1995, his strong interest for research led him to join Einstürzende Neubauten, a collective music project that is still active, and is regarded as one of the leading lights of industrial music.(3) The name of the group itself, which means “collapsing new buildings”, epitomizes its nihilistic/constructive esthetics  - to build in order to pull down and build again, in a continuous search for renewal and a constant evolution of expressive modes. These ideas are well summarized by the band’s motto: “nur was nicht ist, ist möglich” (only what is not is possible).

Critics have often described Einheit as EN’s ‘percussionist’, or as a percussionist in general, but this definition is in fact inaccurate, and all the more so since the artist himself refuses to clearly define his role as a musician. His revolutionary importance as an innovator lies in the creation, almost ex-nihilo, of instruments (mostly idiophones, i.e. instruments where the sound is produced by the vibrations of the instrument’s body) from found objects he usually stumbles upon on industrial sites -such as sheets and plates, and mechanical and electric tools - such as hammers, saws, drills - mostly metallic, which he plays percussively, but also non-percussively. For instance, among the instruments invented by Einheit, the one he still uses the most is the so-called spiral, a long metal spring that can produce percussive sounds, but that can also turn into a friction idiophone, if it is subjected to stress by a sort of bow, also made of a metallic material.

As we have seen, Einheit’s music during the EN period revolved around the creation of noises and new sounds, full of life and energy. Einheit makes use of improvisation, and, above all, rejects traditional musical instruments, especially the electric guitar. He views is as the symbol of the American rock musical esthetics, and consistently rejects it in favor of an entirely European way of making music, free from commercial influences, which makes of him a legitimate heir to musique concrète. In the Seventies, concrete music gave rise to industrial music as a less academic, more ‘popular’ branch of the research on acoustics and sound.
In order to understand the evolution of Einheit’s musical journey, it will be useful to briefly pause on the definition and origins of industrial music.

2.  Industrial music

The term industrial music generally describes a series of styles of electronic and experimental music, and was used for the first time around the mid-Seventies, to describe the completely new and unique sound of the artists affiliated with Industrial Records. Founded by Neil Andrew Megson, front man of the Throbbing Gristle music project, this British record label promoted several avant-garde artist, among them Throbbing Gristle itself, Einstürzende Neubauten, the Merzbow “noise project”, and even authors such as Glenn Ballard and William S. Burroughs.(4) A few years later, other groups, such as Cabaret Voltaire, introduced the electronic element (synthesizers, samplers, electric guitars) into the research trend that, up to then, had focused mainly on acoustic sound and noise.

To be more specific, industrial music programmatically sets itself against folk culture as derived from rural society, with the aim of creating an esthetic view that reflects the urban, technological reality of contemporary Western society. In terms of musical style, it describes a simplified, sometimes minimalist process for creating music, although today most of the critics tend to interpret the term in relation to the ‘industrial’ esthetics. Although mirroring the soundscapes of the technological-industrial world, this view nevertheless rejects the dehumanization associated with industrial production, factory work and the interaction with machines.

The earliest roots of industrial music date back to the historical avant-garde movements of the XX century, in particular futuristic music – see Luigi Russolo’s  manifesto L’arte dei rumori (1913, The Art of Noises), the earliest example of an industrial philosophy in music, but also the Dada movement (see for instance the URSONATE, or Sonate mit Urlauten, by Kurt Schwitters, composed in the 1910s), and, later, the Fluxus group. However, the most decisive influence for the birth of industrial music was Pierre Schaeffer’s musique concrète, which worked with the cutting and editing of magnetic tape sections, just like William Burroughs’s cut-up technique, (5) but adding sounds from the earliest, rudimentary electronic analog sources. Other significant sources of inspiration included the electronic experiments of Edgar Varèse (Poème Electronique, 1958), Karlheinz Stockhausen and, in Italy, Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna.

3. The break with Einstürzende Neubauten

As we gather from this brief historical outline, F.M. Einheit can be regarded as a modern – or better postmodern, even if uncommon and unorthodox, representative of the major European avant-garde trend in acoustic-musical experimentation that has its roots in the historical modernism of the XX century, and gave rise to industrial music. His use of recycled, mostly metallic materials, found on industrial sites, as well as tools and pieces of machinery of different kind, transformed into musical instruments, perfectly embodies the original spirit of industrial music, but also, in a sense, of metal music, in its early meaning of ‘metallic-sounding music. (6)On the other hand, Einheit’s introduction of synthesized sounds and sampling also qualifies him as an electronic musician. With his tireless musical research on alternative, unique, ephemeral sound sources (in a couple of EN records we can even hear him as he beats the rhythm of the song with his fists on vocalist Blixa Bargeld’s chest) and, last but not least, with his imposing physical presence, Einheit literally ‘hammered’ the collective conscience of a knowledgeable, sophisticated musical public, along with the other members of the Einstürzende Neubauten project, in particular percussionist NU Unruh, until 1995. In this year, probably due to a disagreement with the group’s leader Blixa Bargeld, he decided to leave the band and carry on with his research on his own, following up on a series of collaborative theater and radio projects he had already started as side-projects during his last years working with EN.

F. M. Einheit left Einstürzende Neubauten because, as he declared in a recent interview,(7) the project had exhausted its innovative vein, its ability to pull down barriers and continuously change its own approach to music, to “build and pull down and rebuild”. (8)

Therefore, we can say that the logic of F.M. Einheit’s contribution to the German, and European, musical scene has always been to pave the way for a new German and, more generally, European musical culture, through the ‘creative’ rejection of several traditional, over-exploited musical approaches, with the aim of building a new language, a new vocabulary of sounds, both individual and absolutely original.

4. The Hörspiele: a new musical theater

During and after his activity with EN, Einheit published a series of concept albums, often in collaboration with other avant-garde musicians (Gry, Stein, Ulrike Haage, Pan Sonic). However, it is with the theater collaborations and the Hörspiele, or radio dramas, that Einheit entered a new, major stage in his musical evolution. Einheit brought the original spirit of his experimentation with EN to the theater and the radio, developing it further in more complex, culturally richer works, thanks to the use of texts by the great German playwright Heiner Müller, and by writer Andreas Ammer, and the contribution of other musicians, among them the electronic pianist and composer Ulrike Haage. It all began in 1990 when, in the wake of the major success of EN’s collaboration on the theater text Die Hamletmaschine, Heiner Müller’s postmodern version of Shakespeare’s play, Einheit was offered several jobs for theater productions, dance shows, and radio dramas.

All the subjects, texts and compositions for the Hörspiele created by Einheit, some of which are studio albums, while others were recorded live in German theaters, were created by the composer in collaboration with other authors. Almost all radio dramas were commissioned and funded by German national radios (such as Bayerischer Rundfunk, Hessischer Rundfunk, Westdeutscher Rundfunk), and were awarded many national and international honors and prizes, in Germany, the United States, Italy, and Japan. Einheit’s radio dramas are the natural continuation of the radio’s tradition as a workshop of artistic experimentation. In France and Italy, for example, starting from the Fifties, radio had a decisive influence on electronic music – just think of the Italian national radio, RAI, which produced radio dramas accompanied by live musical soundtracks by Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna. Thanks to a distribution deal with Martin Atkins’ label Invisible Records, the radio Hörspiele have also found a large, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable audience in the United States. (9)

With works such as Prometheus and Odysseus 7, Einheit, Ammer, Haage and the other artists that joined them have created a completely new combination of music and radio opera. But they did not stop there. Starting from their Hörspiele, Einheit and Ammer have toured Germany, presenting live in theaters a series of true Gesamtkunstwerke, total works of art that blend radio drama, acting, artistic performance, video art, theater and music concerts, overcoming the barriers between art forms and, sometimes, involving the public in interactive actions. The term Hörspiel, or radio drama, is in fact an institutional umbrella-definition for a completely new form of performance and entertainment, a new musical theater that makes use of radio drama as a starting point. On the one hand, this ‘holistic’ view of theater allows Einheit to appeal to a larger audience than radio drama fans, thus contributing to the German government’s project to relaunch the radio as an entertainment medium. On the other hand, it allows him to produce, and present to a larger public, a series of unique artistic performances that would otherwise reach only the specific target public of contemporary art and theater lovers. Ultimately, as I mentioned above, Einheit’s central idea, which is also shared by the artists who surround him, is to reconstruct (however difficult the process may be) the native German culture which, after having been destroyed by Nazism and the Second World War, in the post-war period has, in Einheit’s opinion, adhered too much to the American cultural trends, except for a few extraordinary figures (among them Fassbinder for cinema and Kraftwerk for music). Einheit endeavors to do this by crossing boundaries between art forms, and between high and popular art.

It may be useful to briefly list and review all the Hörspiele by Einheit/Ammer, in order to identify their recurrent themes:

1993 Radio Inferno (F.M. Einheit/Ammer) after Dante’s Divina Commedia

1994 Apocalypse Live (F.M. Einheit/Ammer/Haage, live recording) after Saint John’s Apocalypse

1996 Deutsche Krieger (F.M. Einheit/Ammer/Haage) on German history “from Emperor Wilhelm to Ulrike Meinhof”.

1997 Sensation Death (music for the dance show of the same name) after the legend of Faust

1999 Odysseus 7 (F.M. Einheit/Ammer/Haage) “radio space opera in 24 songs”, after Homer’s Odyssey.

1999 Prometheus/Lear (Radio suites and theater productions) on texts by Heiner Müller after Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, and by Edward Bond after Shakespeare.

2000 Frost 79° 40' (F.M. Einheit/ Ammer/Gry/ Pan Sonic, live recordings) from Robert F. Scott’s diary of the South Pole mission in 1912.

2002 Crashing Aeroplanes (F.M. Einheit/ Ammer), texts taken from the transcription of black box recordings of different airplanes.

2004 Paradise Lost & Found (F. M. Einheit/ Ammer) oratorio after John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

As we can see from the above list, Einheit’s works show a remarkable continuity and consistency in terms of the themes they deal with. The lowest common denominator for most Hörspiele are actually, as I noted at the beginning of this article, the genesis of the universe and of the world, of humanity, as well as their end (Prometheus, Odysseus 7, Paradise Lost & Found, Radio Inferno, Apocalypse Live), utopian and apocalyptic visions (Radio Inferno, Paradise Lost & Found, Apocalypse Live, Crashing Airplanes) and the human adventure of knowledge (Prometheus, Odysseus 7, Sensation Death, Frost 79° 40’).

But all of these themes are present, and well-illustrated, in the two Hörspiele that deal with Greek myths, Prometheus (the creation of human beings, the knowledge and the techne associated with fire) and, in particular, in Odysseus 7, with the two parallel themes of adventure/exploration/thirst for knowledge and creation/birth and end of planet Earth and of the universe. F. M. Einheit chooses the myth because it is an open, a-temporal narration, and therefore an ideal model that can be adapted to the universal themes he deals with, for different reasons. (10) First of all, before he started working on radio dramas, Einheit recalls that “I participated in the reworking of old Greek plays like Prometheus. When I started working in the theater, I wanted to really immerse myself in the work and I decided the best way to do it was to obtain a fresh, personal look at the material. I wanted to get to the root of the meaning of a certain play. So instead of using other authors’ interpretations of the stories, I wanted to attack the compositions from a more original and personal level.” What interests Einheit is, once again, the very essence of the mythical narration, its universal key themes, its images and archetypes, freed from any interpretive superstructure or earlier literary and artistic reading. The translation the musician gives of Greek myths, therefore, does no takes into account the work’s reception by the critics or the public, past or present, but (it could not be otherwise) only and exclusively his own understanding of it, the analogies and mental associations that these key themes, images and archetypes produce on him. Only in this way can the resulting interpretation really turn out as personal and, in accordance with the artist’s own poetic vision, as new and original as possible. This is especially true of Odysseus 7, where the author of the text and the musicians enjoy maximum freedom in their reworking of the myth. Odysseus 7, therefore, represents a point of arrival with respect to Prometheus. In fact, the title of this article could be reversed: “from Prometheus to Odysseus”, not just because the myth of Prometheus is older than that of Odysseus, and because Odysseus embodies the human virtue of metis, or cunning, whereas Prometheus represents the divine, original metis, but also because Einheit’s Prometheus (1993), represents, as we will see, a preparatory stage to Odysseus 7 (1999), both in terms of the approach to myth, and in terms of musical style and compositional technique.

5. Prometheus Suite

Prometheus Suite (1993), like all Hörspiele by Einheit, is a collaborative effort, in this case resulting from the cooperation between actors and musicians, even though the idea and the project originally came from Einheit. Prometheus is a theater suite, first performed in Antwerp on October 2, 1992 (production commissioned by the City’s Zuidpool Theater). It was written for the play of the same title, based on Heiner Müller’s text and directed by Stefan Kimmig and Wolf Seesemann. This play functioned as the basis for the Hörspiel, broadcast by the German national radio and later published on compact disc in 1999.

The underlying text the suite is meant to accompany is the German adaptation of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound by German playwright Heiner Müller (Eppendorf, Saxony, 1929 - Berlin 1995), Prometheus. Nach Aeschylus, combined with its Dutch translation by the actress José Kuijpers, who also lends her voice to the character of Io.

A stage/film director and playwright, Heiner Müller is one of the Germany’s most prominent contemporary dramatic authors. An exponent of the ‘DDR (or GDR) literature’, he was often attacked and censored by the Central committee of the Communist Party, and was even expelled from the national writers’ association because of his early works, which were inspired by the late Brecht, and revealed his critical attitude towards the Communist regime. Among his most acclaimed theater works are Der Lohndrücker, Zement, Traktor, Die Massnahme and, among his films (screenplay and direction) Die Auftrag, after Anna Seghers’ self-titled novel. Müller was awarded all the most prestigious German literary prizes – the Heinrich Mann Prize for Der Lohndrücker (1959), the Büchner Prize (1985), the national GDR Prize for his whole work, the Kleist Prize (1990) and, in Italy, the Europa Prize (1994). Throughout his career, Müller wrote several plays based on classical and mythological subjects, such as Philoktetes, Herakles 5, Ödipus Tyrann (1966) Prometheus. Nach Aeschylus (1968), Herakles 2 oder die Hydra (1972),  Verkommenes Ufer. Medeamaterial. Landschaft mit Argonauten(1982), and the poem Ajax, zum Beispiel (1994). (11)

These mythological subjects, in particular the great symbolic value attached to the figure of Prometheus, allowed Müller to express his anti-authoritarian ideas despite the regime’s censorship. It is interesting to observe the analogies between the two mythological figures of Philoctetes, another character Müller portrayed, and Prometheus (as well as, within the drama of Prometheus, the figure of Io) – all three characters suffer from an intermittent agony inflicted on them by an animal of divine origin. Philoctetes has a wound in his foot, which cannot be healed, caused by the bite of a snake, an eagle devours Prometheus’s liver, and Io is constantly stung by a gadfly sent by Hera. In Müller’s plays, these tortures clearly hint at the repression of dissent and freedom of speech by the totalitarian institutions. Nevertheless, Prometheus freely chose his destiny, rebelling to authority although he always knew what he would have to face. If, however, in Aeschylus the transgression of the norm only serves to reaffirm the need to consolidate Zeus’ absolute superiority, in Müller’s work, despite the author’s atheist, radically pessimist attitude towards the human condition, Prometheus’ rebellion is the symptom of the need to subvert an unjust political order, which dehumanizes and threatens social life.

For this reason, the most significant difference with respect to Aeschylus’ tragedy lies in the high esteem the protagonist, Prometheus, enjoys in the eyes of Müller, who describes him in much more laudatory terms than Aeschylus. In the German author’s adaptation (for the work is not, as I have already mentioned, a translation in the narrow sense of the word) all references to Prometheus’ sin, as well as all negative value judgments about him, and to the duty of honoring Zeus, are weakened or removed altogether, as can be shown by comparing the German adaptation and the original Greek text:

PROLOG

 

Ans Ende sind wir gekommen der Welt
Von Menschen leer.(12) Deine Arbeit, Hephaistos,
Mußt du jetzt ausführen, die der Vater befohlen hat,
Zeus,(13) an den Fels(14) schlagen den da(15)
Mit unlöslichem Eisen das Fleisch,
Das sich empört hat (16)
Und beraubt das Feuer,
Das allgeschickte,
Menschen zum Gebrauch,
Damit er lerne des Zeus Herrschaft
Und aushalten den Stolz(17)
Und die Liebe zu Sterblichem,
Fleisch an Stein(18)

Heiner Müller
Prometheus (Prolog)

 

 

To earth's remotest limit we come, to the Scythian land, an untrodden solitude. And now, Hephaestus, yours is the charge to observe the mandates laid upon you by the Father--to clamp this miscreant [5] upon the high craggy rocks in shackles of binding adamant that cannot be broken. For your own flower, flashing fire, source of all arts, he has purloined and bestowed upon mortal creatures. Such is his offence; for this he is bound to make requital to the gods, [10] so that he may learn to bear with the sovereignty of Zeus and cease his man-loving ways.

Trans. Herbert Weir Smyth (1926) (19)

Prometheus’s peculiarity as a Hörspiel is that Einheit chooses not to let Prometheus himself speak. It is the other characters revolving around his story who speak: Hephaestus, the Choir (of the Oceanides), Io, Typhon, Oceanus, the Erynies, Hermes and Hades. Among them, the only one who expresses herself verbally, in the two central pieces of the suite, is Io, the ‘heifer-horned’ maiden (die kuhgehörnte Jungfrau) who, like Prometheus, is afflicted by a sort of chronic illness sent by Hera, the spouse of Zeus. The other characters (Hephaestus, the Oceanides, Hermes) speak through the peculiar sounds and noises produced by the actions they perform. In the prolog, for example, a calm, whispered, percussive loop, accompanied by a metallic tinkling and by natural ambient sounds (the washing water of a creek, the songs of birds, periodical inserts of sea waves) are a prelude to the arrival of Hephaestus, signaled by samplings and loops of heavy percussive sounds on a compelling rhythm, accompanied by a remote siren sound, and by the noise produced by metallic blades (suggestively evoking the strength and the power, Kratos and Bia). The Choir of the Oceanides, on the other hand, turns into the reiterated sound of a factory press, overlapping with a subdued, creeping loop, against the background of mysterious, synthesized ambient sounds.

The episodes that make up the suite are, respectively:

1 Prolog
2 Hephaistos
3 Der Chor
4 Io/ Typhon I
5 Eurynien (20)
6 Io/ Typhon II
7 Okeanos
8 Hermes
9 Hades

In pieces 4 and 6 (Io/Typhon I and II), the spoken text alternates with stage noises, musical quotations (samplings), and original sounds and music (ambient sounds, sounds produced by percussive acoustic instruments combined with loops and synthesized sounds). The spoken text is not accompanied by any sound, for the word itself, in Einheit’s view, is sound, rhythm, music. The rhythmic quality of the text, which can also be felt in Müller’s free verse, is emphasized even more by the evocative, yet plain delivery of Dutch actress José Kujipers. Through the juxtaposition and the dialogical interaction between text and sound, Einheit seems to encourage the listener to perceive the rhythm of the text, too, as music. (21)Einheit searches for a total theater, a theater that can bring all the senses into play, that is directly linked to life, without any mediation. However, to be able to do this he has to go beyond the pre-determined structure of theater, to rebuild theater through a less rationalist approach. We do not always go to the theater to understand something. For Einheit, the reaction of the senses to sound – and to vision, in the case of a stage production, is more important than the rational understanding of ideas. Einheit’s experience with the material aspects of music, with the ‘handcrafted’ construction of sounds, the ‘hand-to-hand fight’ of the musician with the materials from which he wants to extract unique, peculiar sounds, led him to think of art as something derived, not detached, from the body, from the senses. Reading the text, and, especially, listening to the two pieces Io/Typhon – the annoying, intermittent buzzing, the anxious rhythm of the speaker, the obsessive, pressing, grotesque musical citations from old Viennese-like waltzes and early 20th century German cabaret songs, like obsessive thoughts continuously resurfacing to our minds, or even the following, hypnotic loop (22), the heartrending weeping of the young woman, amplified and distorted by echo and reverberation effects – it almost seems as if Einheit wanted to convey the basic ideas that underlie the tragic text through sound stimuli, through the impact of our senses with music, and, conversely, it seems as if ideas can “strike” us, or “inflict wounds” to our senses with their resounding and rumbling. <

IO/TYPHON, I and II

 

Welch Land, welch Volk, wen, sag ich, seh' ich in felsigen Zügeln, überwinternd? Welchen Vergehens, Strafe, vertilgt er? Zeig mir, wo in der Erde verschlagen (23) bin ich, Kummervolle? Er sticht wieder, Unselige, mich wieder, der Stachel. (24)

Wohin führen sie mich, die fern irrenden Wanderungen?

Worin jemals fandest du mich frevelnd ,(26) da du solchen Qualen mich einbidest, mit bremsenstechenden Schreckbild(27), wozu mich, unselig Wahnsinnige, schreckst(28) du?
Mit Feuer mich verbenn' oder unter der Erde verbirg' oder des Meers Zähnen (29) geb' mich zum Fraß, doch neide(30) mir nicht die Gebete, Herr, diese. Genug haben, viel irrend,  die Wanderungen mich geübt, und nicht mehr, wie ich den Leiden entflieh', weiß ich zu lernen.

 

 

What land is this? What people? By what name am I to call the one I see exposed to the tempest in bonds of rock? Tell me to what region of the earth I have wandered in my wretchedness? [...] A gad-fly […] is stinging me again

Where is my far-roaming wandering course taking me? (25)

In what, O son of Cronus, in what have you found offence so that you have bound me [580] to this yoke of misery--aah! are you harassing a wretched maiden to frenzy by this terror of the pursuing gadfly? Consume me with fire, or hide me in the earth, or give me to the monsters of the deep to devour; but do not grudge, O Lord, the favor that I pray for. [585] My far-roaming wanderings have taught me enough, and I cannot discern how to escape my sufferings.(31)

 

TYPHON

In Aeschylus’ drama, Typhon, another primal deity - a giant, son of Gea, who tried to oppose Zeus’ ascent to power, is mentioned by Prometheus in his dialog with Oceanus. The titan cannot but show solidarity towards Typhon, whose destiny he pities:

Pity moved me, too, at the sight of the earth-born dweller of the Cilician caves curbed by violence, that destructive monster [355] of a hundred heads, impetuous Typhon. He withstood all the gods, hissing out terror with horrid jaws, while from his eyes lightened a hideous glare, as though he would storm by force the sovereignty of Zeus. [360] But the unsleeping bolt of Zeus came upon him, the swooping lightning brand with breath of flame, which struck him, frightened, from his loud-mouthed boasts; then, stricken to the very heart, he was burnt to ashes and his strength blasted from him by the lightning bolt. [365] And now, a helpless and a sprawling bulk, he lies hard by the narrows of the sea, pressed down beneath the roots of Aetna; while on the topmost summit Hephaestus sits and hammers the molten ore. There, one day, shall burst forth [370]  rivers of fire, with savage jaws devouring the level fields of Sicily, land of fair fruit--such boiling rage shall Typho, although charred by the blazing lightning of Zeus, send spouting forth with hot jets of appalling, fire-breathing surge. (32)

But Typhon, along with Echidna, is also, according to the tradition, the father of the eagle who feasts on Prometheus’ liver. In the suite, the intermittent recurrence of screeching, sharp, inhuman factory noises (pneumatic hammers and automatic machinery) that interrupt Io’s desperate wandering, represents the dialogical exchange between the latter and Prometheus tormented by the eagle.

ERYNIES

In Aeschylus’ text, the Erynies are briefly evoked in the exchange between the choir of the Oceanides and Prometheus:

Chorus
[515] Who then is the helmsman of Necessity?

Prometheus
The three-shaped Fates and mindful Furies.

Chorus
Can it be that Zeus has less power than they do?

Prometheus
Yes, in that even he cannot escape what is foretold.

Chorus
Why, what is fated for Zeus except to hold eternal sway?

Prometheus
[520] This you must not learn yet; do not be over-eager.

Chorus
It is some solemn secret, surely, that you enshroud in mystery.

Prometheus
Think of some other subject, for it is not the proper time to speak of this. No matter what, this must be kept concealed; for it is by safeguarding it that [525] I am to escape my dishonorable bonds and outrage. (33)

Einheit inserted the horrifying siren whistling, accompanied by a hissing sound and by the long, inhuman cry of famous singer Diamanda Galas, the cry of the Erynies, between the first and the second Io/Typhon piece, because Io and Typhon, for different reasons, both bear a grudge to Zeus, and let the Erynies loose against him. Io, in particular, invokes vengeance (the Erynies) for the shameful treatment she must endure on account of Zeus.

The sound of Einheit’s fingers drumming, the constant static noise and the mysterious, cryptic, sampled industrial sounds characterizing Okeanos are followed by the lunge of Hermes’ ‘knife’ (literally “Hermes Messer”), which bursts out and ends in an explosion, accompanied by a sound of metallic sheets immediately followed by an obsessive loop that evokes the mechanical music of a carousel, dotted by trills and ring bells. The knife or, better, the sickle (harpe) is a tool the tradition attributes to Hermes, (34) and which the God, obeying the will of Zeus, used to kill Argos Panoptes, Io’s watchman sent by Hera.

A sinister, obscure loop, worthy of a horror movie, introduces the last piece of the suite, Hades, which evokes the chthonic world where Prometheus is sunk at the end of the tragedy. The title is, however, a variation with respect to Aeschylus, who talks about Tartarus, not Hades. The latter is actually the place of mortal shadows, whereas Tartarus is the subterranean site the Gods, too, can sink into.

As we have seen, in Einheit’s Prometheus suite music prevails over ideas and over the word, which becomes itself music, stimulating a kind of understanding that is not mediated by intellect - a direct, emotional, ‘sensorial’ comprehension of ideas. Throughout the whole work, we witness a counterpoint-like interaction among several voices and artistic languages, which is precisely what gives life to the new, organic, and unitary idea of theater/opera envisaged by Einheit. It is an opera where reality is de-composed, and its fragments paratactically juxtaposed, without interruption, and without any relationship of hierarchical subordination. Einheit fully developed this aesthetic vision four years later, in the ‘radio space opera’ Odysseus 7.

Odysseus 7: Radio space opera

Odysseus 7 bears the subtitle “Radio-space opera in 24 Gesängen”, and is nothing but a condensed version of Homer’s Odyssey adapted to science fiction, more precisely to the mission of a spacecraft that takes off in search of other civilizations and intelligent life forms. The CD is a live recording of the opera’s first performance, which took place at Munich’s Marstall theater on April 19, 1997. The libretto was written by Andreas Ammer, an esteemed German radio and theater author, and the music was composed by F.M. Einheit in collaboration with the pianist and electronic composer Ulrike Haage. The opera consists of 24 cantos, or songs, or better 24 sound pieces which, however, do not always exactly correspond with the Odyssey’s cantos.

In the above discussion of Prometheus Suite I have already noted how several communication channels (the poetic text, the original sounds/noises, the sampled sounds, the musical quotations) overlap in a polyphonic tangle. In Odysseus 7, we find particularly complex languages that constantly evolve to form a polysemic composition. The very nature of the structuring mechanisms that govern the composition of the opera suggests a metaphorical reading of Odysseus 7 as a concert, in the etymological sense of union, dialog or competition of different voices.

Let us start from the voice. The text, the basis for the epic tale, is the quasi-literal quotation of Johann Heinrich Voss’s German translation of the Odyssey (1781). The German version is accompanied by its English translation. The Homeric text, however, is constantly subjected to changes and additions, almost invariably consisting in extra-textual references to space and the universe. For example, in the episode of the sirens, the hero of Odysseus 7 ends his tale with these words - “This was the sweet song that the sirens sang”, to which he immediately adds: “ but my head was filled with the sound of the Big Bang, oh yeah”.

The opera’s approach to the mythical narration is, apparently, rather traditional – there are several narrators, of which, however, the most important is Penelope, not Ulysses. The voices, the rhythm of the voice, the musical quality of the voice, are still very important, as in Prometheus. However, the spoken text and the sound-music, the fragments of reality (sound and sound effects, voices and words, shreds of melodies), are no longer alternating, nor simply juxtaposed as happens in Prometheus – instead, they overlap and intertwine, are recombined and re-mixed thanks to a slick mounting, which creates an even richer play of counterpoint and polyphony. (35)What we see, then, is a continuous interaction between acoustic noise and synthesized and sampled sounds, and therefore between electronic music, industrial music, and vocal pop pieces, mixed with recordings of American and Russian radio newscasts, on the one hand, and a ‘polyphonic acting’, with both male and female voice, on the other hand. Here music - in the narrow sense of the word - is only one of many elements in the show, which, as Einheit himself reminds us, also includes the dramatization of texts, as well as video projections. But music still remains the main compositional principle (concert), besides being the bonding agent, the trait d’union, the fundamental leit-motiv that helps preserve a degree of cohesion within this choir of heterogeneous voices.

The opera opens with a celebration of the radio, of the importance of the radio as a communication medium that contributes to the interaction among human beings – as is well-known, radio is less alienating, less totalizing, and less authoritarian than television. The beginningof the first canto is precisely a description of the usefulness of radio waves for establishing a connection with other civilizations and other intelligent life forms, which is, as we already know, the mission of the Odysseus 7 spacecraft.

2) Talkshow Tau Ceti

Goddess: One Telemach (wie ein Fernsehpriester): Radio is the best chance we have for interstellar communication. Radio waves travel at the speed of light, but even Proxima Centauri, the closest star, is four light years away. Goddess: Two Telemach: Trotzdem könnten andere Zivilisationen, die 50 Lichtjahre entfernt sind, suchten sie nach Leben wie uns, jetzt und heute auf ihren Planeten Signale unserer früheren Radiosendungen empfangen, ... Goddess: Three  Telemach: ... so wie wir und über Talk Shows auf Epsilon Eridani oder Tau Ceti amüsieren können - galaktische Entfernung 10 bis 20 Lichtjahre.
Goddess: Four Odysseus: So get your telescopes up / And turn your radio on / And get on your knees and listen! / Get on your knees and listen! Goddess: Five Odysseus: To the sound of the universe / To the sound of the spheres/ To the sound of the space / Between me and you. Goddess: Six Odysseus: Come on and get on your knees / Get on your knees and listen. / To the sound of the space / To the sound of Ulysses. Goddess: Seven Odysseus: To the greatest show about the universe / At the end of all times. / To the adventures of Odysseus 7 / Which will be broadcast from heaven. / Tonight.

Piece/canto no. 3 (20 minutes to Genesis) is maybe the most representative of the work’s whole structure. It is a condensed synthesis of the Theogony, from Chaos to Zeus’ supremacy over the Giants and Titans. The story, narrated by Penelope, is periodically interrupted by the signals of a countdown, and by service radio messages for the preparation of a spacecraft takeoff (authentic recordings). The piece on genesis is followed by another one on the apocalypse, or better, on the astrophysicists’ predictions as to when and how the universe will end. Subsequently, we hear recorded messages, mostly in English, exchanged between Earth control stations and spaceships, and vice versa. The earth base, the control station that has the task to keep in touch with Odysseus 7, is called Telemachus, and their communication, of course, takes place over the radio. The 24 episodes are constantly interrupted by the communication attempts, sometimes successful, other times failed, which are launched from the base on planet Earth (Telemachus) and try to reach Odysseus 7.

In the trip to Hades, Odysseus 7 meets the souls of Soviet cosmonaut and aviator Jurij Gagarin (called ‘Genosse Gagarin’), and of the first living creature who traveled through space, the female dog Laika. The two souls are evoked by radio broadcastings of the time, both in Russian and American, describing the failed mission of ‘martyr’ Laika (November 1957, Sputnik 1) and, subsequently, the successful mission of another female dog, Strelka (August 1960) who, unlike Laika, came back unscathed and gave birth to some puppies.
Within the textual level, i.e. the Homeric narration, a series of windows is ‘opened’ onto other sub-levels – the work is actually full of allusions, word plays, and cross-references between the names of deities and mythological characters and planets, constellations, satellites and stars. (36) First of all, it is worth pausing on the symbolic meaning of the number 7 – for instance, 7 are the notes of the musical scale, as well as the colors of the iris. 7 are the planets that can be observed by naked eye from the Earth. 7 are the years Odysseus spent with Calypso. Another example of polysemic/polyphonic, multi-level structure is the episode of Calypso. Canto no. 18, In the Orbit of Calypso, begins with Odysseus’ tale of how he landed on the island of Ogygia, but the narrator, Penelope, suddenly changes subject, turning into an astrophysicist who gives space coordinates and geo-morphological data about the satellite Tethys, “small Moon of Saturn, mother of Achilles, whose surface contains the crater Odysseus”. Tethys, both as a satellite and as a goddess, is therefore identified with Calypso, or better the house of Calypso, the island of Ogygia. The episode also contains an unusual provocation that plays on the reversal of roles: the goddess addresses Odysseus with the German words “Du bist mein Gott” (“You are my god”), and Odysseus, an Anglo-Saxon astronaut (skillfully interpreted by the versatile Phil Minton), answers her with a vulgar “Fuck off!”. The irate goddess thus promises to take revenge on Odysseus and kill him. But at the dawn of the following day, the hero manages to escape and, after building himself a spacecraft (instead of the Homeric raft) steers towards the Pleiades, passing through Ursa, “also called Chariot, whose look is steadily turned towards the Orient”. Finally, after a cosmic storm, he comes in view of planet Earth.

As I have already remarked, polyphony is the main feature of this work. Here the voice of the Homeric tale – which, already in the Greek myth, contains several voices, several tales, is fragmented into an even more multi-faceted prism - we not only hear the narrating voices of Telemachus, Penelope and Odysseus, but the text they speak is bilingual (which produces a further splitting of voices) – English is the language spoken by Odysseus, whereas Telemachus speaks both English and German. Penelope, instead, only speaks German. It is interesting to note that Odysseus and Penelope speak two different languages, and that Odysseus does nothing but repeat in English what Penelope, the narrator, tells in German. Therefore, there is no communicative exchange between Odysseus and Penelope, while there is some communication, although difficult and often interrupted, between Odysseus and Telemachus.

The opera by Einheit/Hammer/Haage, therefore, echoes the voice of the Homeric poem, but constantly modifies and interrupts it with the sci-fi story of the Odysseus 7 space mission. The ancient past merges with the recent past, the present and the future, revealing the eternal value of the Homeric myth and of the human adventure of knowledge. The exploration of space on a spacecraft, although on an infinitely larger scale, is not substantially different from the exploration of the Earth by ship, as described in the Odyssey. The graphic layout of the booklet enclosed with the audio recording of the opera also reflects this interpenetration of different temporal levels. For instance, the booklet includes the reproduction of a bas-relief from a vase, depicting Greek ships, which in turn contains smaller boxes with images of the planet Earth photographed from space, or portraits of cosmonauts.

The main voice, the Odyssey, is joined by other voices, coming from science-fiction films, from audio recordings of American and Russian radio newscasts announcing historical space missions, such as Apollo 13 and Sputnik and, finally, from authentic radio communications between control stations and spacecrafts.
What we have is, therefore, not only the voice of poetry and myth, but also the voice of history (Gagarin, Laika) and of science, more precisely astrophysics. The voice of Penelope not only narrates the adventures of Odysseus/Odysseus 7 but, as we have seen, often gives technical information on the planets and constellations. In piece no. 6, entitled Speed of Penelope, Odysseus’ spouse performs complex (although fictitious) mathematical calculations in order to obtain the speed at which Odysseus is moving away from Calypso, and the distance that separates him from home.  Ultimately though, as usual, the prevailing voice is that of music – strings, percussions, but also synthesizers, loops, environmental sounds and melodic pieces, as in the last canto (piece no. 24), Interstellar Record (IV).

Odysseus 7 is also a capacious postmodern container. In it we find references to high culture, music and the classical literatures (Dante, the Monteverdi of Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria), but also to popular music and cinema. One of the pieces, More Tales of Brave Odysseus 7, is a hint at the famous rock song by Cream, Tales of Brave Ulysses. The 23rd canto is entitled Song for Barbarella, and is a homage to the reckless cartoon space adventurer brought to the screen by Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda in 1968. But the whole work is also pervaded by irony, produced not only by the tone of Odysseus’ voice, often grotesque and ridiculously over-emphatic, but also by the pieces’ titles (Homer’s Takeoff, Circe’s Show), and by the inter-textual references, sometimes even by the author’s irreverent comments on the Homeric model. Just to quote some examples - at the beginning of the work, and of the mission, Telemachus speaks like a ‘tv priest’ (wie ein Fernsehpriester), inviting all listeners to tune in on channel 7, Odysseus’ channel, to point their telescopes skywards and listen, on bended knee (as in Homer), to the music of the spheres, the music of Odysseus’ tale, who, apparently seized by a fit of megalomania, declares: “I am a God”. In canto/piece no. 4, entitled Ulysses Never Screams, the protagonist declares, shrieking loudly, that he never screams. When the communication between the base (Telemachus) and Odysseus 7 is interrupted, the son of Odysseus tries to restore it, but finally gets fed up and sends his father to hell. “Odysseus 7, könnt ihr uns hören? Nein? Dann fahrt zur Hölle!”. But the most blatant transgression is perhaps the identification of Penelope, the ever-faithful, chaste, virtuous spouse, with Barbarella, the reckless adventurer traveling through space on a peace mission. At the beginning and at the end of the opera, Odysseus announces - “Es sang Barbarella mit der Stimme von Penelope” (Barbarella sang with the voice of Penelope). Moreover, the sixth piece bears the title Speed of Penelope, contradicting once more the idea of immobility and permanence traditionally associated with the figure of Penelope. At the beginning of canto no. 23, Song for Barbarella, Penelope declares “Da ward ich ihm Barbarella” (thus I became/was for him, i.e. for Odysseus, Barbarella).(37)

In order to get an idea of the polyphonic web of spoken voices, let us read the whole text of the last two cantos:

23) Song for Barbarella

Erde könnt ihr hören die gefiederten Worte des Helden Odysseus? / Vom Ende des Gesangs. / Es sang Barbarella mit der Stimme von Penelope: Penelope: Also besprachen wir uns und redeten so miteinander / Es kehrten - nach aller Irrfahrt - wir beide / Freudig wieder zur Stätte des altvertraulichen Lagers / Da nun wir uns an der Fülle der Liebe ersättigt, / Freuten wir uns der Zwiesprach' und redeten viel miteinander / Ich, was im Haus ich ertrug, die Göttliche unter den Weibern, / Aber der Sprosse des Zeus, Odysseus, erzählte, wie manchen / Menschen er Jammer schuf und was er selber geduldet, / Alles; ich aber hörte mit Freuden ihm zu und es senkte / Sich kein Schlummer auf das Aug', bis alles erzählt war. / Und er erzählte mir, wie er einst die Kikonen bezwungen, / Wie er dann zu der Lotosesser lachender Flur kam, / Was der Kyklop ihm tat und wie er... Odysseus: I began with the victory over the Cicones / And his visit to the land, where the Lotus-eaters live. / I spoke of what the Cyclops did, / And the price I made him pay / For the fine men he ruthlessly devoured. Penelope: ... wie er der braven Gefährten Tod gerächt, die jener fraß ... Odysseus: I told of my stay with Aeolus, / Who gave me a friendly welcome / And saw me on my way; / And how the gale, had caught me once more / And driven me sick at heart, over the teaming seas. Penelope: ... er trieb laut stöhnend zurück auf die fischdurchwimmelten Fluten ... Odysseus: I told how I came to Telepylus, where the Laestrygonians destroyed my fleet / And all my fighting men, / The black ship that carried me / Being the only one to get away. Penelope: ... nur er selber entrann im schwärzlichen Schiffe ... Odysseus: I told about Circe and her complex arts; / Of how I sailed across the seas in my great ship / To the dark Halls of Hades / To consult the soul of Theban Teiresias, / And I saw all my former comrades. Penelope: ... und wie er dann zum dunklen Haus des Hades gefahren ... Odysseus: I told how I listened to the sweet song of the Sirens; / How I sailed by the Wandering Rocks, / By dread Charybdis, and by Scylla, / Whom no sailors pass unscathed; / And how my men killed the cattle of the Sun; Penelope: ... wie dann deine Gefährten des Helios Rinder erschlugen ... Odysseus: I told how Zeus the Thunderer had struck / My fast ship with a flaming bolt, / And all my fine company / Had been killed at one fell swoop, / Though I myself escaped their dreadful fate. Penelope: ... nur er selber entging dem grausen Verhängnis ... Odysseus: I described my arrival at the Isle of Ogygia / And my reception by the Nymph Calypso, / Who had longed to marry me, / Offering immortality and ageless youth, / But never won me round. Penelope: ... doch sie konnt ihm nie das Herz im Busen bewegen ...

24) Interstellar Record (IV)

Odysseus: Finally, how I arrived, after a disastrous voyage, at Scherie, / Where the Pheacians honoured me / In their hearts like a god/ And sent me home by ship with generous gifts / Of bronze and gold and clothes. Penelope: ... da überfiel ihn süßer Schlaf und löst ihm die Glieder ... Odysseus: I had just finished this tale when sleep came suddenly upon me, / Relaxing all my limbs and banishing my cares. / Oh my sweet Barbarella. I am home.  Penelope: Im Weltraum hört dich kein Mensch. [24] Telemach: No-one hears you scream in space. / Telemach: And time? /Goddess: Time goes on, baby. /Telemach: And space? Goddess: Space? Is exploding, baby./ Telemach: And we? Goddess: Wir sind allein. /Odysseus: In the beginning, I walked out in the mists of the early flood. Then I came back, no more my hands covered with blood. / Telemach & Goddess: Between mankind and the starlit sky/ Between Scylla and Charybdis, we fly/ Take me to the milky way / To Cassiopeia and Venus at last./ Penelope: Das All ist ruhig im Moment. / Wir senden stattdessen die Platte, die den Wesen im Weltraum kündet von der Allmacht der Menschen!/ [recorded radio message] “As the Secondary General of the United Nations, I send greetings on behalf of the people of our Planet. We step out of our Solar System into the Universe, and it is with humility and hope that we take this step”. / Penelope: Also sang, der hehre Odysseus, und lautlos saßen sie alle und schwiegen, horchten noch wie entzückt im großen schattigen Saale des Weltalls.   

In Odysseus 7, one of the best Hörspiele ever conceived and created by F. M. Einheit, myth and fiction, history and science, contemporary experimental music and popular music, coexist in an absolutely original, postmodern, wide-ranging Gesamtkunswerk where reality is not a fixed datum - on the contrary, the different realities de-compose in a prism, whose facets are constantly reflected into each other, overlapping and interacting in a sort of concert. Reality, therefore, is constantly relativized – past, present, and future, microcosm and macrocosm, human and cosmic dimensions, genesis and apocalypse, flow into each other. Once more, the myth, as the open, a-temporal narration par excellence, is the structuring idea, the only form that can convey both Einheit’s ideas in all their richness and universality, and the high complexity of his compositional structures.

Footnotes

1) Lyrics translation [my emphasis]:
http://lide.punknet.cz/bobes/lyrics/Lyrics/Einsturzende_Neubauten/Tabula_Rasa.txt;
original lyrics: [my emphasis] “Während nur eines Zungenschlags/ gibt es Urknall und Wärmetod/ vom roten Riesen bis zum weissen Zwerg/ die ganze Skala/ mir fallen kosmische Dimensionen aus dem Mund […] Zwischen Mikrophon und Makrokosmos/ zwischen Chaos und ohne Ziel/ zwischen Plankton und Philosophie/ zwischen Semtex und Utopie/ gibt es sie/ die Interimsliebenden […] Zwischen Genesis und sixsixsix […] Ich stapfe durch den Dreck bedeutender Metaphern/ Meta Meta für Meter/ mit Gesten viel zu breit.”

Lines by Blixa Bargeld from a text by Einstürzende Neubauten, entitled Die Interimsliebenden, from the album “Tabula Rasa” (1993). For a collection of all lyrics to the songs of Einstürzende Neubauten, see Blixa Bargeld, Maria Zinfert, Matthew Partridge. Headcleaner. Text für Einstürzende Neubauten. Berlin, Die Gestalten Verlag, 1997 (repr.).
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2) F.M. Einheit, interview with Sonic Boom Magazine (3/2/1998).
The interview can be read at: http://www.aracnet.com/~jester/interview/fm.einheit.interview.html
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3) For further information and a complete discography of the group, see Robert Defcon and Max Dax’s monograph, Nur was nicht ist, ist möglich. Die Geschichte der Einstürzenden Neubauten. Leipzig, Bosworth Musikverlag, 2006, also available in the English version Einstürzende Neubauten. No Beauty Without Danger, Bremen, Druckhaus Humburg, 2006. For the song lyrics see the above-mentioned Headcleaner (n. 1).
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4) In 1981, Burroughs gave his own prestigious contribution to Industrial Records with an album entitled Nothing Here Now But The Recordings, containing sound collages based on cut-up, a technique created and developed by Burroughs himself in collaboration with Brion Gysin.
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5) Concerning William Burroughs, it is worth remembering that F. M. Einheit himself contributed a few original pieces to the soundtrack of Commissioner of Sewers (1991), a documentary film by Klaus Maeck on William S. Burroughs. The pieces are entitled Anna (with Ulrike Haage), Hammermörder, Friedhofsmauer, and Batman brät Fische, from the album Stein (1990) by the group of the same name, founded by Einheit.   
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6) On this topic see the story of the word ‘metal’ as a denomination of the musical genre, especially the sections from William S. Burroughs’ novel Nova Express, in Eleonora Cavallini’s article Achilles in the Age
of Metal
.
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7) See the full interview at:
http://undergroundmusiclibrary.blogspot.com/2006/02/fm-einheit-einsturzende-neubauten.html
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8) "To rebuild music in a new way was the thing that I was most interested in Neubauten. To do something and in the next moment just to let the whole thing collapse and look at it from a different angle. I started the original sessions for Ende Neu [the album that came out in 1996] but I left during the recording. I just didn't see any stepping forward in Neubauten. It wasn't collapsing and rebuilding anymore".
http://undergroundmusiclibrary.blogspot.com/2006/02/fm-einheit-einsturzende-neubauten.html
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9) In the United States, radio and radio dramas, after experiencing their golden age before the Second World War (see the sensational success of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, broadcast in 1938), continued to enjoy a great popularity until the Sixties, when they were gradually replaced by television. Only recently, with the rise of Internet radio and ‘podcasting’, a new idea of radio is gaining ground not only in the United States, but globally.
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10) See interview at: http://www.aracnet.com/~jester/interview/fm.einheit.interview.html
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11) For a brief outline of theater in the GDR, including Heiner Müller, see Handbuch des deutschen Dramas, edited by Walter Hinck. 1980, Bagel, Düsseldorf, pp. 482-88.
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12) Müller’s text lacks the words “to the Schythian land” (Skythen es oimon) and “desert” (abroton eis eremian; devoid of people). In general, we can observe (see also the notes relating to Io’s episode), a tendency to synthesize and cut, from the source text, all specific references tied to Greek culture, when they are not easily understandable, or are unknown to the lager public.
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13) Not in Aeschylus’s text.
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14) Müller omits the adjective “high, craggy” (pros petrais hypselokremnois).
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15) The German version lacks the epithet “miscreant” (leorgon).
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16) Addition by Müller.
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17) Addition by Müller.
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18) Emphatic addition by Müller.
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19) Aeschylus. Aeschylus, with an English translation by Herbert Weir Smyth, Ph. D. in two volumes. 1. Prometheus Bound. Herbert Weir Smyth, Ph. D. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. 1926.The full text of Smyth’s translation is at: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=aesch.+pb+1
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20) In German the definition of the Erinyes is “Erinyen”. The name “Eurynien” could be the result of a crasis between the adjective eurys (huge) and the name of the Erinyes.
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21) A parallel in Italy can be traced with Luciano Berio’s continuous research on the musical quality of the spoken word, as well as of noises.
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22) These sound correspond, respectively, with the sections of the original text that read “Oh! Oh! Alas! Once again convulsive pain and frenzy, striking my brain, inflame me” (Aa aa ee chriei tis au me tan talainan oistros) and “The waxen pipe drones forth in accompaniment a clear-sounding slumberous strain.” (hypo de keroplastos otobei donax achetas hypnodotan nomon; 574-575, en. trans. cit.)
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23) The Greek text reads: led (agousi); in Müller we have: thrown, pushed, dragged (verschlagen).
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24) Stachel (oistros): in German it means both thorn, sting, and harassment, in a figurative sense.
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25) 561-567. En. trans. cit.
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26) In Greek hamartano (ti pote euron hamartusan, participle) means ‘to make a mistake, to do wrong, to sin’, and is a rather generic verb. In German freveln means ‘to sin’ in a religious sense, to commit an impiety. The meaning is, therefore, more restricted in German.
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27) Bild, image, is a semantic enrichment by Müller, which, in the Hörspiel, is functional to the dialogical interaction between the sound of the inward sphere, of conscience and thought, and external sounds and images.
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28) In the Greek text (teireis, verb tero): ‘you torment, you vex’. In German: ‘you terrorize’. This is clearly a semantic shift.
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29) Here Müller opts for a synecdoche coupled with a semantic slipping – where the Greek text reads “snapping sea monsters” (pontiois dakesi), the author translates “the teeth, the fangs of the sea”, thus attributing the noun ‘fangs’ to the sea.
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30) Here the German translates the Greek ‘to envy’ (phthoneo) literally, as ‘do not envy me’ = “do not take away/deny me/deprive me of these prayers for envy”.
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31) 578-587 En. trans. cit.
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32) 351-372. En. trans. cit.
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33) 515-525. En. trans. cit.
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34) Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca II 4,2: "From Hermes Perseus also received a steel sickle", which he then used to behead Medusa. According to Pseudo-Eratostenes, on the other hand (Catasterisms 22), Perseus received the sickle from Hephaestus. The same is narrated by Aeschylus, fr. 262 Radt.
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35) To continue the parallel with Luciano Berio, polyphony is also both the effect and the structuring principle of the Italian composer’s last opera, Outis, as well as of other stage actions by Berio.
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36) The semantic potential, and therefore the quantity of information conveyed by signs and symbols, in Odysseus 7 is further enriched by the countless quotations, allusions and references to other texts (radio news broadcastings, space communications, the language of mathematics and astrophysics), in other words, by intertextuality, the interrelation that links all texts (verbal, visual, musical) produced by human beings in a large web.
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37) This is a curious echo of Cesare Pavese’s Dialoghi con Leucò. In the dialog between Circe and Leucò Le streghe, Circe uses the exact same words: “Gli fui Penelope” (literally, “I became/was Penelope for him”, or “I was his Penelope”).
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