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Prof. Dr. Claus Steffen Mahnkopf
(HMT Leipzig)

Was heißt künstlerische Forschung und was heißt künstlerische Forschung?


The lecture tries to explain terms. What does research mean? What does art mean? Can research be thought and practised in art at all? The lecture offers thoughts about the Renaissance ideal of the creative human being, who becomes innovative in art and in technology (for example Leonardo da Vinci), as well as the differentiation of the science system and thus the decoupling of art and science, as well as the very different practice of the "doctorate" at universities (for example in medicine or in the PhD programme in composition at US universities). The conditions for an "educated" artist/musician in his or her double role as researcher and artist are reflected upon. Finally, conditions for meaningful artistic research, which is more than a simulation, are offered.


Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, born in 1962 in Mannheim (Germany), studies in composition, music theory, piano, musicology, philosophy, and sociology with Brian Ferneyhough, Klaus Huber, Jürgen Habermas among others. Music degree and PhD. Since 1984 international prizes and awards, including the Gaudeamus Prize, Stuttgart Composition Prize, Ernst von Siemens Music Grant, Villa Massimo. Since 2005 Professor of Composition at the Leipzig Academy of Music and Theater. Editor of the journal Musik & Ästhetik and the book series New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century, author of over 150 essays and numerous books (e.g. Kritische Theorie der Musik, Deutschland oder Jerusalem, Von der messianischen Freiheit, Philosophie des Orgasmus). Extensive œuvre in all genres, performed by renowned groups (e.g. Ensemble Modern), important commissions (e.g. Salzburger Festspiele), numerous portrait concerts worldwide. Principla works: Rhizom, Medusa, Kammerzyklus, Angelus Novus, Hommage à György Kurtág, Hommage à Daniel Libeskind, Hommage à Thomas Pynchon, Prospero's Epilogue, humanized void, Kammersymphonie I-V, voiced void. His compositional work is published by Sikorski, Berlin.

Dr. Pia Palme

On composition as ecology. A posthuman tractate.



Posthuman thought calls for polyphonic and integrationist approaches. Per Braidotti, I propose that composition is a compound field of art-with-research-practices, opening up terrains where artistic activity and knowledge production can co-emerge and interact. My practice of composing and researching is grounded in listening perception, as I connect with the world through my ears, tuning into a situation. This idea resonates with indigenous positions (Robinson, 2020) and with feminist listening. From here, I will critically investigate the traditional art/science binary. Understood as a posthuman practice and activity, composition cross-pollinates and ferments disciplines, genres, and cultures in a positive way. It motivates and empowers us to think, and act beyond binaries: beyond the art/science and art/nature binaries, beyond the binary of living/non-living.


Since the 1960’s, composers have used the term ecology in connection with music. Models from ecology enlighten my situation as artist within the surrounding culture and environment and contribute conceptions for compositions and staging. Defining my works as theatrical or performative ecologies allows me to handle the interrelation of human and non-human agencies. This tractate will further discuss how decomposition, a core concept in ecology, becomes an artistic method. In my practice, I collect and carry ideas with me for some time (Latin tractare—to carry, to handle). Developing a life of their own, the diverse materials in my mind interact and inwardly heat up like Haraway’s compost pile. They mature, decompose, and re-assemble in a flow that contributes to my compositional process as ecology.



Pia Palme, born in Vienna, is a composer, performer, and artistic researcher with a focus on experimental forms of music theatre which she defines as theatrical ecologies. Listening into the environment is at the core of her practice; she develops multidisciplinary ideas including writing, movement, and visual art. Recent scenic works include ON A FORMER ISLAND (2022), MY ROOM, UNTIL YESTERDAY (2017), and the collaborative opera WECHSELWIRKUNG (2020). The backbone of her work is the physicality of performance, a theme she regularly revisits as a musician with bass recorders. From 2019–2022, Palme directed the large-scale PEEK artistic research project On the fragility of sounds at the Kunstuniversität Graz. Investigating the process of composing as a feminist practice, she cooperated with researchers, ensembles, institutions and artists worldwide. With Irene Lehmann, she co-edited the anthology Sounding Fragilities (Wolke, 2022) centring on contemporary music and composition in the context of music theatre.


Alberto Posadas

Redefinition and hybridization through an archaeological approach


Western narrative is based on the paradigm of "forward progress", understood as overcoming phases in a linear process. Research is, in this process, a fundamental pillar of the expansion of knowledge. But, what can be based on a research that allows to redefine the identity of the sound as its sources of production? From what perspective can be faced the „conflict" of composing music for instruments created centuries ago in a contemporary cultural context? An archaeological approach that refers to the origin of the instruments can provide „authenticity“, by investigating their identity aside from the cultural contexts that have historically filtered their resources. A search and research on fingering, sound emission, modification of the acoustic response and hybridization between instruments of different nature, can contribute to creating a dramaturgy of the compositional process based on the conception of the instrument not only as a sound generator but as a generator of music material.



Alberto Posadas, born 1967 in Valladolid, has explored the relationship between nature, mathematics and music, as well as with other artistic disciplines. For years he has researched the instruments at a micro level, developing what he calls „micro-instrumentation".


In 2002, he won the Audience Award at the Ars Musica Bruxelles festival and, in 2011, the Spanish Premio Nacional de Música. He was selected by the reading panel at IRCAM (2003/04) where he has regularly been composer in residence, as he had been at the Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Bamberg (2014) and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2016/17).


Festivals and concert series including Musica Strasbourg, Festival ManiFeste (Paris), Donaueschinger Musiktage, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Ultraschall (Berlin) have programmed concerts devoted to his music.

Further Programme

Book presentation

Sounding Fragilities_An Anthology (2022) edited by Irene Lehmann and Pia Palme.


Final concert

on 15 March 2023 with works by Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Pia Palme, Alberto Posadas and the piece by the winner of the internal GMPU composition competition. The pieces will be performed by Ensemble Schallfeld Graz.

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