Name: Wolfgang Mitterer
Occupation: Composer, instrumentalist
Nationality: Austrian
Current release: Wolfgang Mitterer's temp tracks is out now via col legno.  
Recommendations: J.S. Bach „Präludium et fuga in e“ (for organ solo); M. Davis: On the corner

If you enjoyed this Wolfgang Mitterer interview, visit his homepage for more information and music.

When did you start composing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started playing church services on organs when I was 6 years old. At the same time I started to improvise (on organs).

For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?

Learning Bach, Messiaen, Ligeti, etc. - trying to improvise in their styles (on organs).

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

Hopefully in a good way.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

After playing full clusters and new techniques for organ: To get in touch with electronic music and devices.

Things changed with the development of electronic means and my general knowledge of course.

Time is a variable only seldomly discussed within the context of contemporary composition. Can you tell me a bit about your perspective on time in relation to a composition and what role it plays in your work?

"Time" is the most important part of music.

To learn more about time (in music), it can be very helpful to play concerts with different good drummers.

How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?

Sound and composition go together. A specific sound is already a little composition in its own right.

When it comes to sound and timbre, electronics help a lot, because, for the last 100 years, no really new acoustic instruments have been invented.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives?

Collaborations help you to invent things, you could not find alone.

One of the best ways of creating music is to play a complety free concert with 3-4 musicians.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

I start in the morning with composing or practicing an instrument. Around 18:00 I stop this and meet my family or friends.

Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?

"Turmbau zu Babel", an open air performance on a soccer field in Linz ,1993. It involved for 4200 singers, 16 speakers, 22 drums, 8 trp, 16 hr, 16 tromb, 8 tba, 8-channel-tape (55’).

I started working on this piece 1 year before the performance.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

If a person has 3 really good ideas a day, that's a lot.

If you're working while the idea comes (to you), you have a change to find it in your work. If you're having a coffee in that moment you'll probably find the idea in the coffee …

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

I do not care about this. It is a question for music therapy.

There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?

Everything is flowing into each other. You can not invent everything.

It is nice that we have ways to notate music, that we can use instruments, tools, etc. which have already been invented and to be able to start from there …

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Writing music is constructing a picture for something you can not see in the end.  

Music and dance, if dance is a "sense".

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

Art is a personal thing. If you can feed it back directly into everyday lives or political roles, etc. you should start thinking whether your art is on the right track.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

"You can pray in your church but it is better to sing."