Mauricio Kagel was born in Buenos Aires on the 24th December of 1931, from a Jewish family with both Russian and German origins. His family name Kagel (adopted by his grandfather), has German origins, and also a small town near Berlin is called so.
He took private lessons of singing, orchestra conducting, piano, violoncello, organ, among also with Ginastera and Paz. His father gave him the first musical lessons but his first piano teacher was Vincenzo Scaramuzza, a pianist from Crotone, of whom, Mauricio Kagel, has kept a fervent souvenir for the rest of his life. At the university of Buenos Aires he studied with other teachers philosophy and literature, among them was also Jorge Luis Borges. He joined the AGRUPACION NUEVA MUSICA of Buenos Aires at the age of only 16 years old.
In 1950, his first composition has been published, PALIMPSESTOS, for an “a capella” mixed choir and also DOS PIEZAS PARA ORCHESTRA.
In 1950 he became the co-founder of the Cinémathèque Argentine.
In 1954 he founded the Colon Theatre's orchestra in Buenos Aires.
Collaborating with the periodical “Nueva Vision” he starts getting interested in photography and cinema.
In 1957 he moves to Köln. He takes interest in the study of electronic music, phonetics and science of communication at Meyer-Eppler in Bonn.
From 1958 he will be occupied in conducting orchestras.
In 1960 he founded the "Kölner Ensemble für Neue Musik".
From 1960 until 1964 he teaches as professor at the “Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik” in Darmstadt.
From 1961 he will direct many concerts, travelling through Europe and America.
From 1964 he works mainly in theatrical activities. Writing his own movies, he will direct most of them, later produced by television.
In 1964-1965 he's nominated “Slee-Professor” for composition at the State University of New York in Buffalo.
In 1967 he is professor, as guest of honour, at the academy for cinema and television in Berlin.
In 1968 he is director of the “Skandinavische Kurse für Neue Musik” in Göteborg.
In 1969 he is director of the “Institut für Neue Musik” at the Rhineland’s conservatory and from 1969 until 1975 he directs the Kölner Kurse für Neue Musik.
From 1974 until 1979 he teaches as professor of the Neues Musiktheater alla Kölner Musikhochschule.
He travels a lot, making many tours in Middle East and in Asia (1973) and South-America, USA, and Canada (1974).
Fantasy, humour and originality are the main peculiarities of his works, Kagel became one of the most significant authors in Musical and Contemporary Theatre. During his artistical career, he directed himself most of his works, either as a producer than as a director of all his movies and radio programmes. He received a lot of honours and credits, he has been played in lots of important contemporary music festivals . One of his last appearance took place in July 2006, for his 75th birthday at the Colon Theatre of Buenos Aires, the Goethe-Institut and also the Margarita Xigu Theatre, being called as the symbol of cultural exchange between Germany and Argentina, with concerts and open rehearsals.
A few weeks before he died, Mauricio Kagel, gave his last interview, on the occasion of the festival “Il nuovo – l'antico” which took place in Bologna in October 2008. We are offering you an extract of this interview, which sums up his idea of music and the philosophy which guided the Maestro during his long career as a composer, explaining by his own how he lived and felt the dearest thing for him: Music.
"... Each composer is convinced that his last masterpiece will be the most beautiful and important, but during my whole life, continuity has been always fundamental in my works. The different stages, can be qualified as organic; but contrary to many other authors, I was never subjected to any “shock” which would have caused a total change from one minute to the other in works. Such as when we talk about Picasso, we mention his blue, pink or cubist period etc… Such a thing has no sense for me, as my course has always been linear and I would even say organic. Of course some pieces are more or less important than others, but I’m not the right person to qualify them. The only thing I can declare, is that during my whole life, after I had finished a score, all my involvement, my soul and my love for music has been transferred in it. At the end, I have always been able to affirm: “that’s what I wanted, and so it had to be. Then the future will let us know…"