On Mela Meierhans’ working methods

Mela Meierhans first wrote down her music with a piece for piano, „Triton“. In doing so, she started to inscribe her music into the history of musical notation. The fact that she did so with tritone, the devil in music, is by no means a coincidence since she did not intend to leave its structure and history the way she found it. If today, after having gotten to know Mela’s electronic pieces and orchestral work, I listen to a recording of this piece with Laura Galllati, the tritone sounds warm, almost cozy. Maybe because this accord was a dissident within a clear order, an order which even as a negative reference has by now vanished from Mela Meierhans’ work.“

Ever since I first listened to „Vagabundinnen“ („Female Vagabonds“), an orchestral work from 1992, I can not listen any longer to a Bruckner symphony, for instance, without hearing in the back of my mind the electronic ma-ni-pulations of Vagabundinnen – breakings of the emotional force in order for own feelings to gain space, breakings that sound as if an electronic baton were subject to chronic short circuits.

A passion for searching, for trying and for succumbing to temptation. And... a passion for failure. When Mela drives the orchestra to the limits with her democratic mode of composing, she not only tries to fuse politics and music, everyday life and art, theory and practice. In the concert hall Mela puts into practice what we all struggle with every day: democracy, dialogue, dealing with differences. She takes a lot of risks: angry musicians, upset conductors, rehearsals that are stopped short, concepts that have to be discarded. She does not dread failure and thus makes it part of her success.

In her piece „differánce I to V“, which was first performed last season, tension is created not via the confrontation with a certain order but via the act of establishing order itself. The composer writes down the music – which she herself has described as setting limits – but she leaves room for interpretation. Out of sounds, mathematical arrays and the unpredictable of the individual actions, structure is composed and decomposed. This instability displays a yearning for new beginnings that will not solidify, a yearning to be able to breathe within the music.“

Extracts from a text by Anette Hug and Patricia Purtschert © 2000
translated by Julia Wolf