Mauricio Kagel's Nah und Fern

About the Project

Nah und Fern is the biggest contribution to the trumpet repertoire that the Carillon Quartet has thus far brought into fruition. The idea was to create a live version of Muricio Kagel’s “radio drama”(höspiel) in order to introduce it to new audiences. It seemed obvious that in the 21st century radio no longer has the power it once enjoyed in the post-war era. Bringing Nah und Fern into a live context was a way to preserve it, and reintroduce it to concertgoers. This makes the project not just unique, but also innovative, breathing new life into music that has not had the wide popularity it perhaps deserves. Thanks to the brilliant playback reconstruction by composer Amy Golden, and the trumpets of the Carillon Quartet, this piece has now been heard live for the first time since its première in 1994 in the city of Utecht, where the composer led a concert with the live carillon, Michael Trumpeters and the city. This is truly an exciting contribution for the trumpet repertoire!


Nah und Fern is roughly 43 minutes long and can be performed anywhere where sound and 16 music stands are available. 

Full video can be found at 

About the Work

Nah und Fern, was born in the WDR (West German Radio) in 1993/1994 as Kagel’s first höspiel without words. The piece was constructed from three pieces that had been composed within a span of the three years prior: Morceau de Concours, Fanfanfaren, and Melodien für Carillon. The latter two were a simultaneous composition, comprised of twelve fanfares in four voices. Morceau de Concours, which had originally been commissioned and performed by trumpet scholar Edward Tarr in 1971, was re-written by Kagel in 1992 for both a solo and duet version. The 1992 version only shares its title and conceptual nature with the original, which does not survive to be performed. 

Out of these works and with the addition of field recordings of sounds from the city of Utecht (boats, cars, and even the steps of the carillon operator) Kagel created this aural play in the tradition of the hörspiel, which takes the listener through an exceptional and rather surreal journey through a city landscape. The images that often come to mind are not unlike the scenes from his 1969 film Ludwig Van. The city sounds, so recognizable to any listener, interrupted by the anachronistic carillon bells, and being commented on by studio-like trumpet playing yields a peculiar atmosphere reminiscent of the bygone era of Borges.

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