Caption Text: The Festival Neue Musik 1930 included composing for radio.
Source: Neue Musik Berlin 1930. Berlin: Ottens, 1930.

Project (2019-2020)

Visions and Experiments of Radiophonic Composing in the Weimar Republic

When radio made it possible to transmit sounds across chronological and spatial distance, new listening situations and new approaches to the interaction with music arose, and never-before-heard sounds were generated in the experiments of the Rundfunkversuchsstelle radio lab in Berlin. Weimar Germany’s state-organized radio broadcasting was the agency responsible for this radio music culture. My project differs from existing research in rejecting the notion of a radio-specific music of the 1920s and 1930s and a body of validated knowledge on the arrangement of music, radio, and the listener. Instead, radiophonic music of the period was concerned with an experience-based experimental culture in which traditional media practices and aesthetic models  were superimposed with new, radio-specific approaches. Focusing on texts and compositions by Bertolt Brecht, Rudolf Arnheim, Walter Benjamin, Max Butting, Kurt Weill, Paul Hindemith, Walter Gronostay, and others, I show how three interfaces between music, radiophonic arrangement, and discourse came to the fore: music as sound/sound as music; the aesthetic reflection of radio’s global dimension; and the search for a musical form corresponding to the technical character of radio. I study these three levels through the prism of their technical, discursive, and musical aspects.