Photo: Max Nyffeler


Re-inventing Smetak: A Brazilian-European Cooperation Project

Ensemble Modern, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Swiss cellist, composer and instrument inventor Walter Smetak (19131984) lived from 1937 in Brazil and left behind not only an extraordinary wealth of experimental sculptural, perfectly crafted and imaginative generators of sound but also a vision of music(al practice) that improves humankind. His thought unites philosophy, theosophy, musical theory and musical practice taking influences from European New Music, indigenous culture and Brazilian music. The notion of “collective music making” as a communal practice was central to Smetak, as was his preoccupation with his imaginative, sometimes comical body of instruments and his attempt to liberate music from constricting systems.
Supported by the EvS Music Foundation the project aims, in several modules, to pick up on the collective sentiment and aesthetic openness for cultural influences and make these accessible: four commissioned compositions by four composers of different generations with a strong focus on Brazil – Paulo Rios Filho, Arthur Kampela, Liza Lim and Daniel Moreira – form the core of the project. The works will be performed in Germany (spring) and Brazil (summer). One performance will place free collective music making at the forefront here in a dialog uniting Brazilian artists connected with Smetak together with the Ensemble Modern.
Furthermore, various workshops will be held all focusing on the idea of “collective music making” and intercultural dialog. Panel discussions and symposiums will be developed in close collaboration between musicologists in Brazil and Germany. The symposium featuring Smetak’s descendants and contemporary witnesses, the results of which will be published, focuses on Brazil but is partially held in Germany.


February 25, 2017
Alte Oper Frankfurt

March 23, 2017
Maerzmusik Berlin

June/July 2017
Sala Meireles, Dell'arte, Rio de Janeiro

July 2017
Campos do Jordão Winter Festival, São Paulo as well as NN, Salvador

November 2017
Kampnagel, Hamburg


Further Information