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Olga Neuwirth

Magic Flu-idity (2018) for flute and typewriter

density 2036: part vi


Magic Flu-idity (2018) for flute and typewriter

density 2036: part vi

Olga Neuwirth’s “Magic Flu-idity” is a reduction of her recent flute concerto “Aello - ballet mécanomorphe” which she wrote for Claire Chase and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in 2018 as a companion piece to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. In the flute concerto version, scored for solo-flute, two muted trumpets, string ensemble, keyboard and typewriter, “Aello” alludes to one the harpies of classical mythology, “someone sent by the gods to restore peace, if necessary with force, and to exact punishment for crimes.”  Mark Berry of Seen And Heard International described it this way: “In three movements, like its companion, it immediately spoke with the tones – in every sense – of a serious composer at work. Figures remembered from Bach, whether melodic, rhythmic, or both, sounded as if trapped in a machine. Or were they actually perfectly happy to be there? Claire Chase on flute, shadowed by two muted trumpets, offered breathtaking virtuosity, set against an ever-changing ensemble that included synthesised harpsichord and glass harmonica as well as portable typewriter. Machines can be fun as well as serious – indeed sometimes especially when they are serious. So too can Bach.”

In this new duo version, both the solo flute and the typewriter absorb lines of the original concerto, conjuring the spirit of Aello - at times capricious, at others demonic - with orchestral force.


Olga Neuwirth was born in Graz, Austria and studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also studying painting and film at San Francisco Art College. She sprang to international prominence in 1991 at the age of 22, when two of her mini operas with texts by Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek were performed at the Vienna Festwochen. 


Neuwirth’s works have explored a wide range of forms and genres: operas, radio-plays, sound installations, artworks, photography and film music. In many works she fuses live musicians, electronics and video and calls her main aesthetic an “art-in-between.” Highlights include two portrait concerts at the Salzburg Festival (1998); her multi-media opera Baa-Lambs Feast (1993/1998) after Leonora Carrington; Clinamen/Nodus for Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra (2000); a composer-in-residence position at the Lucerne Festival (2002/2016); the world premiere of her music-theatre work Lost Highway (2003) after David Lynch, which won a South Bank Show Award (ENO at the Young Vic, 2008); and two new operas while living in New York (2010/11)—The Outcast: Homage to Herman Melville and American Lulu, based on Alban Berg’s Lulu.


Neuwirth’s opera Orlando after Virginia Woolf premiered at the Vienna State Opera in December 2019, making her the first woman commissioned in the 150-year history of the house; it was named World Premiere of the Year by Opernwelt and awarded the 2022 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition by the University of Louisville Kentucky. Orlando was released on DVD in September on Unitel. 


Among a host of other honors, Neuwirth received two prestigious awards in the last years: in 2021 the Wolf Prize, shared with Stevie Wonder, and in 2022 the Ernst von Siemens Prize.

Her composition teachers included Adriana Hölszky, Tristan Murail and Luigi Nono. 

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