Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997)
Music for 1000 Fingers, The Composer Conlon Nancarrow (1993) [German language]
German voice-over narration

Documentation for Bayerischer Rundfunk and Westdeutscher Rundfunk 1993
BetaSP PAL 45 min. - 4/3 - stereo

German voice-over narration

Documentation for Bayerischer Rundfunk and Westdeutscher Rundfunk 1993 BetaSP PAL 45 min. - 4/3 - stereo

camera: Toni Sulzbeck / sound: Marc Parisotto / editor: Christine Hafner

“For me”, says the composer György Ligeti , “Nancarrow is simply the most important composer alive today. He did something totally original. Something totally different from all other people, at the highest level, on the level of Johann Sebastian Bach or the late Beethoven works. " What prompts Ligeti to write this hymn that goes far beyond the usual praise of colleagues? What do both composers have in common? - Hanne Kaisik-Aumüller (director) and Uli Aumüller (author) visited the shy hermit Conlon Nancarrow (born 1912) in his Mexican studio to investigate these questions. For about 40 years - until his discovery by John Cage and György Ligeti, among others - Nancarrow had withdrawn into his composer's hermitage on the outskirts of Mexico City without the slightest interest in external recognition. After the performance of one of his compositions had failed around 1940 due to the reluctance and the technical inability of the interpreters, he pondered how he could achieve his tonal and immensely complex rhythmic ideas, influenced on the one hand by jazz and on the other by 12-tone music, without Instrumentalists could get by. After unsuccessful attempts with a self-playing drum machine, he decided on a mechanical piano, an antiquated forerunner of the music computer in the 1950s - and from then on punched holes in rolls of paper, day and especially at night, in which to program the piano's pneumatic mechanism. The rhythmic accuracy of the mechanical piano enabled Nancarrow to pile the individual voices of his polyphonic compositions at different speeds, even with different accelerations - a breathtaking polyrhythm that overshadows everything that music history has to date in this field. In the film by Hanne Kaisik-Aumüller and Uli Aumüller, Nancarrow explains his approach to composition for the first time. He first divides time into faster and slower time layers, into which he then inserts his melodic ideas. Although he sat for several months from the first idea to the punched roll on one of his 50 or so completed studies for mechanical piano, until recently he was convinced that after his death nobody would be interested in his music - and his piano rolls land on the trash. The 20th century would have simply overlooked one of its most important composers ... In addition to interviews with György Ligeti, the Mexican composers Mario Lavista and Ana Lara, the American publisher and music journalist Charles Amirkhanian, the American pianist and composer Yvar Mikhashoff, Nancarrow's third wife Yoko Nancarrow and his assistant Carlos Sandoval Mendoza, the film contrasts the quiet, hermit-like Seclusion from Nancarrow's studio and residence with the multicultural complexity and unmanageable bustle of the 20 million megapolis of Mexico City.