Patrol: tempo di bossa nova
After Heine: medium beat
Verse: soft medium rock
It all began in about 1967, when my composer-friend Kurt Schwertsik brought back from America the mysterious phrase 'MOB art & tone ART', which he'd dreamed up on his travels. Soon after, Kurt and I and another composer-friend, Otto M. Zykan, got together with four young Viennese instrumentalists (Volker Altmann, horn; Roland Altmann and Kurt Prihoda, percussion; Leonhard Wallisch, cello), and started giving concerts. Perhaps 'concerts' is the wrong word: we tried to make things as infromal and friendly as we could, and we liked to appear in places where no living composers had set foot before. Otto played the piano, I the double bass, and everyone did a bit of singing and acting. Kurt didn't actually take part in our concerts - he was already a busy horn player in the Vienna Symphony Orchestra - but he did give us our name: 'The MOB art & tone ART Ensemble'. We liked the sound of it, and weren't too bothered about its precise meaning, if any. In fact we rather avoided dicussing the matter, because we were much more interested in inventing new kinds of programmes and discovering new audiences than in making the kind of policy statements that might suggest we were some kind of 'school'. All of us felt a bit overawed by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern - the one great 'Viennese School' of the 20th century - and while trying to learn what we could from them, we wanted to find our own different ways.
Personally, I love the search for simplicity, and enjoy it like some rare adventure. For all of us, enjoyment and invention were the first reasons for the 'MOB' Ensemble's existence. Although other engagements prevented us from keeping the Ensemble continuously going for more than about seven years, we look back on the whole experience with a special affection.
The Three Mob Pieces are typical of the kind of music we were writing for the 'MOB' Ensemble in those days. The second piece is, of course, a little tribute to the great poet Heinrich Heine, whose poems often begin in a very romantic and flowery way, but end in despair.
© HK Gruber
(trans. by Trevor Burvill)
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer