| Name; date & place of birth; completion date of questionnaire|
John Wolf Brennan; February 13, 1954, Dublin, Ireland;
Weggis, Central Switzerland, February 20, 1999
1.) Your most pertinent biographical facts or points of reference.
Being born in Ireland, then moving to the Continent and spending most
of my schooltime in Switzerland, I was exposed to a hefty cultural
shock at an early age. My mother was a professionally educated singer,
a repertoire from Schubert to Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss, throwing
in the odd Irish folksong; my father was a very good amateur pianist.
This background and the rock music of the late sixties/early seventies
provided a fertile soil
2.) Your most pertinent artistic facts or points of reference.
Studied piano with Eva Serman (from Hungary, hence my love for Bartók)
at Lucerne conservatory, composition with James Wilson (Dublin), masterclasses
in composition with Edison Denissov, Ennio Morricone, Klaus Huber and
Heinz Holliger. Workshops with Tim Berne, Don Friedman, Ray Anderson,
Joëlle Léandre, Karl Berger, Nana Vasconcelos a.o.
3.) Your preferred venue for performance (clubs, concerts, recording
Clubs: Porgy & Bess, Vienna; Knitting Factory, New York. Concerts:
Queen Elisabeth Hall, London; Studios: Bauer Studio, Ludwigsburg/Germany;
Hard Studios, Winterthur/Switzerland
4.) Your major artistic achievements.
To survive half a lifetime with this crazy idea of an uncompromising
new soundscape between contemporary classical and contemporary jazz music.
To keep the international quartet «Pago Libre» together for
5.) Future artistic goals.
To survive the other half.... a truly sustainable development would
mean: to be able to continue this work, and thrive on it. To write an
(based on W.H.Auden‘s «The Age of Anxiety». To carry
on with «Pago Libre» for at least another decade
6.) Your major turning point(s), personal and/or professional.
meeting my future wife, Béatrice Wolf, a classical pianist, in
1984. Conceiving, writing, performing and recording my first solopiano
album «The Beauty of Fractals» in New York City in 1988.
The birth of our first daughter Móreen, 1992. Living and working
in Ireland 1993. The birth of our second daughter Enya, 1995. Spending
half a year in London, 1997
7.) How do you relax?
Swimming in Lake Lucerne, cycling, mountain trekking, jogging, going
to the Sauna, reading a good book (right now: the Swedish author Henning
Mankell, Paul Auster, Nicholson Baker, Samuel Beckett, Robert Walser,
8.) What is the best way to communicate with you?
From a distant place: by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or maybe visiting
my homepage (http://www.brennan.ch); from within a closer circle: over
a cup of caffe latte or on a long walk
9.) Outside of music, what is your major passion or interest?
Literature, film, theatre. Visual Art: Paul Klee, Man Ray, Wassily
Kandinsky, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Hans
10.) What is your major musical irritant?
96,3% of today‘s musical production
11.) Who are your heroes, or what are your major sources of strength
The other 3,7% – personalities like Gianluigi Trovesi, Kenny Wheeler,
Dave Holland, Alfred Schnittke, John Cage, Györgi Kurtag, Henry
Cowell and Henry Cow. Counterparts and friends like Alex Cline, Gene
Coleman, Tscho Theissing, Arkady Shilkloper, Daniele Patumi, Robert Dick
12.) The artistic achievement you feel best about to date.
Some of my latest albums: «The Well-Prepared Clavier» (solopiano); «HeXtet» with
Julie Tippetts, Evan Parker, Chris Cutler a.o.; «Aurealis» with
Robert Dick and Daniele Patumi; «Pago Libre: Wake-Up Call/Live
in Italy», «Moskau-Petuschki», «Shooting Stars & Traffic
13.) What is most relevant to your artistry?
Honesty, conZENtration, poly-encoding (tying up and weaving more than
one knot into every composed, improvised or comprovised piece of music),
endurance, persistence, calculated ecstasy
14.) What is the most neglected area in your business?
Promotion, distribution, date management
15.) What sustains you personally and/or artistically?
A kind of primeval trust into the nature of our sisyphus-like human
condition has generated enough thrust to keep the rebel going, at least
16.) What makes you feel good and/or successful?
A knot-knowing smile on the face of the listener
17.) Preferred geographical place to live.
Central Switzerland – at the crossroad of four great European cultures:
French, Italian, Austrian and German
18.) Do you feel you have power in your business? In what areas?
The greatest power comes from being able to decide, from following
three tiny words: “just do it“. Of course, the opposite is equally
true: saying NO sometimes is a very powerful (and artistically essential)
19.) Where is the power in your business most centered? Can you, or do
you, reach it?
I‘m constantly puzzled by its presence or absence – it seems
to be either in you or far out in the next galaxy. Since there is no
Scotty to beam me up, I find myself relying on an old, time-honoured,
but arduous virtue: patience
20.) What would you like the public to most understand about you?
That good music needs special attention to the fourth dimension to
grow on you
and in you: time.
john wolf brennan
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