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the pre-stockhausen era: wdr and the beginnings of electronic music

  • Norges Musikkhøgskole Slemdalsveien 11 Oslo Norway (map)
Eimert WDR

This presentation takes a close look at a forgotten proponent of German post-war music; Herbert Eimert (1897-1972). Eimert played an influential role in establishing electronic sound production as a contemporary compositional practice; however, the significance of his contribution soon paled in the shadow of Karl-Heinz Stockhausen. While the possibilities of electronic music might seem self-evident today, the situation for Eimert and the pioneers of new music in the aftermath of the catastrophic events of WW2 was very different. Eimert was the first to perceive the creative potential of radio techniques – assembling tape recorders, mixers, acoustic filters and sound wave generators – not for the sake of recording, testing, editing, and transmitting acoustic sound material, but as a creative toolbox for exploring the genuine aesthetic potential of the electronic devices themselves.

In this presentation, Markus Aust and Arnulf Mattes will present their newly commissioned video documentary of the remains of the famous WDR electronic studio, including an interview with its last sound engineer, Volker Müller, who will also demonstrate how the studio’s early experiments transpired. Moreover, the audience will experience Eimert’s intense, yet, mellifluous radio voice, explaining the newest experiments at the WDR studio with pedagogical rigour.



About the lecturers

Arnulf Christian Mattes ( is a research fellow at the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo. At present, Mattes is involved in the critical edition of the works of Fartein Valen as part of the Norwegian Musical Heritage project. Mattes' main research area is musical modernism and performance practice. Recently, he has contributed to the Norwegian textbook on the history of Western music (Cappelen Damm, 2013). Mattes is also editor of Studia Musicologica Norvegica (The Norwegian Journal of Musicology) and is on the editorial board of the newly launched international journal Music+Practice.


Markus Aust is a sound technician, sound engineer and journalist. Born 1967, Aust has attended the ARD school for radio technology in Nürnberg and studied musicology, phonetics, theater, film and television sciences at Cologne University.

He has worked as a sound technician and sound engineer at NDR and DLF from 1990 to 1995 as well as a freelance journalist covering cultural issues for radio and TV. In 1993, he founded Televisor, responsible for graphics as well as for the sound studio, music publishing house and the label chez muziek.

Aust writes contemporary music, experimental jazz and pop, as well as music for television, film documentaries, and feature films.He was awarded numerous prizes such as Bavarian Film Prize, World Televison Award, and Lithuanian Silver Crane. Recently, he composed „Nuclear Boy“ for the "WDR-ArsAcustica". Aust is also active as a curator of exhibitions featuring medial art forms. /

In cooperation with Institute of Musicolgy (UiO) and Norwegian Center for Technology in Music and in the Arts (NOTAM).