Music has always been part of Nitsch’s work. It can be an element of his actions, or take the form of independent concerts, which the artist also sees as components of his Orgies Mysteries Theaters.
Right from the early days, Nitsch conceived primal screaming or noise music as part of his theater. In 1966, at the Destruction in Art festival in London, he had a screaming choir and a noise orchestra at his disposal for the first time. He also integrated Viennese Schrammelmusik and brass music, Gregorian chants, rock, and African and Asian music in his work.
In the 1980s, concerts that were independent of the actions became more frequent and significant. Nitsch composed pieces for orchestra, organ or harmonium, and string quartets, which he sometimes conducted himself, or played in as a soloist on the organ or harmonium. He has also designed the sets for several operas and directed the productions: the first of these was Hérodiade by Jules Massenet at the Vienna State Opera in 1995.
Nitsch first became interested in classical music when at school. His favorites are Richard Wagner and Alexander Scriabin, as well as the Austrian composers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who tested the limits of tonality or transgressed and redefined them: Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, and the representatives of the Second Vienna School, Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern. »Classical music was always the basis, and to a certain degree also breaking out of classical music, which I always still see as a classical phenomenon.« (Nitsch)
He also likes avant-garde composers after 1945, including John Cage and Glenn Branca, and is interested in African and Asian music.
In the early 1970s, Nitsch participated in the Selten gehörte Musik (Rarely Heard Music) concerts by artists from the Vienna Group and the milieu of Vienna Actionism.
Hermann Nitsch, »Score«, 1990 ...more
Felt-tip-pen and ballpoint pen on paper, 11.42 x 15.53 inches. Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, donation Erich Vala 2008. Photo: Heinz Cibulka/mumok; © Herman Nitsch/Bildrecht, Vienna ...less