R. Albert Falesch

Amazing Maze

Interactive Realtime Composition for Sampled Sound Particles and Optional Live-Performers

Amazing Maze

Karlheinz Essl found his way to NEMO '96 on April 3, 1996, via the Internet's World-Wide Web. - Dr. Essl responded to our call for submissions by offering a digital rendering of his work, Entsagung. This will be presented at the NEMO '96 NetEvent (at Art 1996 Chicago at Navy Pier) several times in various forms, including a collage with spoken narrations from his own writings.

Two weeks later, on April 17th, he surprised us by offering his just-finished Amazing Maze for performance at the Nemo '96 NetEvent. This is the second major world premiere entrusted to the Nemo '96 Festival via cyberspace. During his extensive e-mail exchange with the Nemo staffer and composer R. Albert Falesch, he suggested that the work should be performed live, on stage, "as a musician playing an instrument".

Inspired, Falesch then queried Essl about the possibility of including a live instrumentalist in the premiere. Essl's approval was offered under the condition that a formal set of constraints must be observed. This involved choosing an instrument already presented in his samples, and using the technique and gestures, or variants thereof, which are already present in the work as provided in electronic form. A further e-mail exchange with Falesch yielded more specific notions about a formal outline of the work. In Essl's own words, that formal structure is defined poetically:

  1. starting with bass clarinet solo

  2. more and more developing interventions of the MAZE, gradually leading to "Entsagung" (renunciation) of the musician - in the end he stops playing: listening & pondering.

  3. solo of the MAZE

  4. full interaction between human and machine: very expressively, getting more and more exaggerating, leading to an explosive climax, where the music stops ("The End").


Karlheinz Essl was born in Vienna in 1960. As a double bass player he has performed in chamber music, jazz and experimental music. His works with computers, with an emphasis on Computer Aided Composition, and a prolonged occupation with the poetics of serial music, have been formative influences in his compositional thinking. Dr. Essl is prominent in the field of computer-aided composition through his work as the author of the Real Time Composition Library for Max. RTC-lib is the basis for the sound manipulations which underpins the work to be given its world premiere today, Amazing Maze.

Essl has gained several commissions, including on in 1991 from IRCAM (Institute de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) for Entsagung (Renunciation), for flute, bass clarinet, prepared piano, percussion, and live electronics.

His music is scheduled for performance in both hemispheres, and in 1997 the Salzburg Festival is dedicating to him a series in the Mozarteum, called "Portrait Concert: Karlheinz Essl". This will be performed by ensemble Klangforum Wien, digital samples of whom are to be heard in today's performance, and which are considered an integral part of the composition.

Program notes for the world premiere at the NEMO '96 Festival - feat. Gene Coleman (bass clarinet) and R. Albert Falesch (interactive computer system).

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Updated: 7 Jan 2018