In being born the music dies

Radioessay by Uli Aumüller

Does music help us to understand the difference between death and life? - Radioessay

Patrick was 25 years young and helped renovate our apartment. A handsome young man with an athletic body. Suddenly he falls down and is dead. Heart attack. Like pulling the plug in the middle of a concert. Sudden silence. We try to resuscitate him. Resuscitation. Heart massage. But how far does the comparison of music and life, of death and silence actually go? In being born, music dies, Wolfgang Rihm once said, it is given over to decay. Is that a consolation at this moment? Is the fleetingness of music the reason why it helps to mourn death? The emergency doctor arrives. He restarts the heart.

Other radio productions on this topic:
Departure of the Ephemeral
Experience of Death in Contemporary Music

Manuscript beginning

"Patrick kaput. Ambulance!" - one of the Polish workmen came rushing into my office. Together with him I run to the building site. Patrick is lying on the floor with his head red as a sheet, his eyes sallow as if from a dead fish. The staff member on the other end of the emergency number describes to us precisely what needs to be done. Heart massage - artificial respiration. After what felt like 5 minutes, Patrick gasps for air for the first time - Hhhhhh - I don't know exactly how much time had passed - then again 20 30 seconds of nothing - then the next breath. Hhhhhh - After about 10 minutes the ambulance arrives - emergency doctors, paramedics, helicopter, police ... Somehow they get the heart going again, adrenaline injection, electric shock ... and Patrick is taken away. Then silence in the house - together we say an Our Father in German and in Polish ... a prayer we all know, the only one ... then silence. We cry.

In the middle of life, a heart - 25 years young - stops beating. So do all the other processes in the body while it is alive. The breathing, the nerves, the hormones. It's like pulling the plug in the middle of a concert - stopping a piece of music. And then? A bit of reverberation and an awkward silence? To what extent is the comparison of music and life, of death and silence useful? Or to put it another way: does music - and contemporary music in particular - help us to mourn the death that leaves us so stunned? Or, in other words, does music help us to understand the difference between death and life? To better understand the miracle of life?

Music 1: IV String Quartet by Nikolaus Brass - 4th movement

"Life balances on the cusp of death", writes the Lindau composer Nikolaus Brass in the work commentary to his fourth string quartet. Life is a balancing act, always in danger of falling, or like a dance on a volcano - or, like the two violins in the fourth movement of this quartet, a dance like the moths around the light, which can burn up in it at any time. Death is, so to speak, the exclamation mark that drives us to enjoy life to the fullest - everything else ... a waste of time!

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller (Text)
Editorial Jounalist
Martina Seeber