Hermann Nitsch ‘6. Sinfonie – Allerheiligensinfonie’

6. Sinfonie k7 coverHermann Nitsch, 19786. Sinfonie k7 side 16. Sinfonie box set

6th Symphony ‘Allerheiligensinfonie’

01 Side One (30:50)
02 Side Two (30:30)
03 Side Three (27:50)
04 Side Four (28:10)

Total time 1h57mn
2xk7 set released byEdition Freibord, Wien, Austria, 1988

Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra
Hermann Nitsch: conductor
Frank Dolch: organ
Recorded at the Museum of 20th Century Art, Wien, October 30th, 1980.

In the 1970s, Hermann Nitsch used to make music with the free improvisation group Selten Gehörte Musik, a collective of Berlin artists including Günter Brus, Oswald Wiener or Dieter Roth. This group included some Austrian expats (with Arnulf Rainer sometimes joining in) who had fled from the oppressive, ultra-conservative Austrian atmosphere and found a haven for their creativity in the cosmopolitan German capital. Nitsch didn’t actually emigrate to Berlin, yet he was sentenced several times in his home country for his offensive 1960s Aktions. While most Austrian artists have a strong love-hate relationship with their country, Nitsch is a somewhat different case since he came to mythologize his heimat with pagan concepts bypassing contemporary Austria’s ignoble compromises. Hence, one entry door to the artistry of Hermann Nitsch is to consider his art as fighting back the ignoble with the ignoble.

This recording of Nitsch’s 6th Symphony, titled ‘Allerheiligensinfonie’, or ‘Halloween Symphony’, was made during the dress rehearsal that took place on the Haloween night from October 30th to November 1st, 1980. It was released to 200 signed copies by Nitsch on Edition Freibord, Wien. His own Das Orgien Mysterien Theater (or ‘Orgies and Mystery Theater’), is the name he gives to his public performances. ‘Allerheiligen’ is the German for All Hallows’ Even, the original name for Halloween. The 6th Symphony celebrates the pagan Halloween ritual with festive orchestral music – the more paganist, the better for Nitsch who loathes the Catholic religion prevalent in Austria. The first tape sounds like incidental music, possibly a fill-in before midnight. The second tape is the real meat, with its obsessive repetition of a familiar drinking Schlager (melody). The excessive ball music orchestration includes a profusion of bassoons, accordions, whistles and flutes, but various horns, drums and bass guitar also contribute. The sound is massive, anarchic, unceremonious, almost demagogic, the orchestra sounding everything but philharmonic. To illustrate the Symphony’s mood, the few pictures bellow seem appropriate. They come from Munich’s Oktoberfest, the annual festival of funfairs and beer drinking. The last picture shows Nitsch with his own cépage of Austrian white wine.

Thanks to Rainier for lending me these exceptional tapes.

Download here or there.

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Munich's OktoberfestMunich's OktoberfestMunich's OktoberfestDrink Nitsch! (2008)


8 Responses to “Hermann Nitsch ‘6. Sinfonie – Allerheiligensinfonie’”

  1. 1 twinkle August 26, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    bloody good


  2. 2 continuo August 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    You’re a such a pagan yourself.

  3. 3 Danny August 28, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Nitsch is positively one of the last true shamans.

  4. 4 continuo August 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I’m not sure what a shaman is today, but I’d certainly wouldn’t want to have Nitsch as a guru, say. I guess the extremes of his art can’t be translated in everyday life. Now, if by shaman you mean beer-drinking buddy, Nitsch might qualify.
    Nice blog that you have, btw.

  5. 5 Andras August 30, 2009 at 6:46 am

    Hello there.

    I am an avid Nitsch fan, both his theatre and his music, but also anything connected to Vienna Actionism. I have read about Selten Gehörte Musik but was unable to find anything by them. Do you know if anything was released or recorded by them and if so, where could I find these.

    Thank you.

  6. 6 continuo August 30, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Hi Andras, there are several Selten Gehörte Musik LPs out there, but they sell for high prices since the art galleries are after them. If you google the name, you’ll find several places to buy one copy – that is, if you have the cash. Nothing to be found on mp3 blogs, alas.

  7. 7 Andras September 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you for the info. Sorry for the late reply. Take care.


  8. 8 continuo September 5, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    You’re welcome.

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