36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 084: Pupofon - electronic music opera


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 84 — Pupofon—electronic music opera
25-October-1971 (Mon.)


Pupofon II this is not a puppet

Had a pretty good day. Fairly good practice, lesson, and German class.

While I was cashing my diminishing Am. Tr. Cks. [American Express Traveler’s Checks], an obviously rich man before me asked for $1,000 in Austrian money. He said, smiling, “I hope it lasts.” Then, when talking to another person, [he] said, “You know, it’s the young—they don’t want to work.” After this mess, I went to the cashier and said, “Can you handle $20.”

Went to
Pupofon—electronic music concert with live “acting”—really extremely interesting. With the live puppet-action, the music can have much more of an impact and meaning for the audience—easier to grasp. The idea of sound—going through different and various loudspeakers—creates quite an era of dimension. This is where I would like to further explore electronic sound—(1) use [electronic music] with sight or visual objects, movie, live participation, and (2) more involved atmosphere—i.e. sounds, action, etc.

I have a very interesting program of tonight’s concert.

The whole thing was staged by my teacher, I think he has some good ideas. [Pupofon, is an electronic music opera composed by my teacher, Austrian composer, Dieter Kaufmann.]

Big argument with Pavel on “new music.” He uses typical arguments that it’s not music—tried to convince him, failed.


Getting better. I’m practicing and getting a little better. Notice how I’m not complaining as much as I did in the early stages of my change in playing. Lesson learned—keep working at what is difficult, it will become easier. By the end of this blog, I’ll be a promotional speaker, touring the country. It’s true. It is not easy to follow one’s own advice over a lifetime, but this journal is reminding me of youthful ideals and hopes. It’s a good thing.

Rich man, poor man. Can you tell into which category I fall? Time and time again, the American Express line brings forth characters whom stereotype American arrogance. When you see and hear it from the point-of-view of a local (after all, I’m now a local), it doesn’t make you feel good. As a traveler, it is better to be sensitive to the people who are hosting you; to be respectful; to be appreciative. Treat others the same as you would wish to be treated.

The $1,000 for a week’s play in Vienna, would have paid for my entire year’s rent.

Pupofon, the opera. I loved Pupofon. Picture being at a live concert, where there is modern, electronic music. The music is played in a “musical and acoustic” space (sounds comes from everywhere). The performers are dressed as large, tall, puppet-figures—thus the title, Pupofon—and there is interaction between live action, movement and the music. It was great and it fascinated me. Remember, that I accepted that “sound itself” could be musical, and how sounds interacted could be a composition.

Although I don’t remember the history, this could have been one of the pieces in the genres that were sometimes described as multimedia events and perhaps even “happenings.” I saw possibilities in this genre and it excited me.

Europe has, in general, always been more receptive to modern music and modern art and Vienna is no exception. This is often true in both music and in fine art, though not always. Twentieth-century composers, Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, and Anton von Webern hailed from Vienna (known as the Second Viennese School), sometimes had difficulties in having their music accepted in Vienna. Today, the historical importance of these three composers is beyond question.

Pupofon II this is not a puppet
Composer Dieter Kaufmann. The best part of this concert, is that the composer was my electronic music teacher, Dieter Kaufmann. Professor Kaufmann is a distinguised Austrian composer noted for his avant-garde style, electronic music, stage and multimedia works such as multimedia theater and opera, and other works. He has won many awards and has mentored many young composers, as well. Here is an article in German on Pupofon. I don't remember this particular girl in 1971 (photo left)—you would think that I would remember her, for whatever reasons. Was there a Pupofon II? Regardless, this girl is not a puppet. Or is she?

When I was a student in 1971, Professor Kaufmann was a young guy. One picture of Professor Kaufmann in the article, shows him singing or yelling, perhaps performing in one of his works. Today, we're both a bit older. Hi, Professor Kaufmann.

Not everyone likes contemporary music. Pavel, my traditional classical-pianist roommate, didn’t like new music.


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