Gottfried Michael Koenig

Gottfried Michael Koenig is one of the most important composers of electroacoustic music. He was born in 1926 in Magdeburg, Germany, studied church music in Braunschweig, composition, piano, analysis and acoustics in Detmold, music representation techniques in Cologne and computer technique in Bonn. He attended the Darmstadt music summer schools for several years, later as a lecturer. From 1954 to 1964 Koenig worked in the electronic music studio of West German Radio at Cologne, assisting other composers (including Stockhausen, Kagel, Evangelisti, Ligeti), and producing his own electronic compositions (Klangfiguren, Essay, Terminus 1). During this period he also wrote orchestral and chamber music (for piano, string quartet, woodwind quintet). From 1958 he was an assistant in the radio drama department at the Cologne academy of music, where he taught electronic music, composition and analysis from 1962. In 1964 Koenig moved to the Netherlands. Until 1986 he was director and later chairman of the Institute of Sonology at the University of Utrecht. During this period the Institute acquired a worldwide reputation, particularly for its annual Sonology course. Koenig also lectured extensively in the Netherlands and other countries and developed his computer programs "Project 1", "Project 2" and "SSP", designed to formalise the composition of musical structure-variants. He continued to produce electronic works (Terminus 2, the Funktionen series). These were followed by the application of his computer programs, resulting in chamber music (Übung for piano, the Segmente series, 3 ASKO Pieces, String Quartet 1987, String Trio) and works for orchestra (Beitrag, Concerti e Corali).
Since 1986, when the Institute moved from Utrecht University to the Royal Conservatory at The Hague, Koenig has continued to compose, produce computer graphics and develop musical expert systems. In 1961 Koenig received an incentive award from the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, in 1987 the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize from the City of Amsterdam, in 1991 the Christoph and Stephan Kaske Prize. In 2002 the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Saarbrucken, Germany, awarded Koenig an honorary doctorate. In the winter semester of 2002/2003 he was Visiting Professor for Computer Music at the Technical University, Berlin. Koenig’s prime concern at present is the preparation of the definitive version of his composition program "Project 1", which goes back to the mid-1960s and has undergone a number of revisions and expansions since then. It now runs under Windows and, unlike the older DOS versions, produces a printed score table as well as data output for use under MIDI, for Csound and the Kyma system. The score table can serve the composer as a model for an instrumental composition; the digital sound-production files are a convenient means of hearing the score tables, and can also be used to create electro-acoustical compositions. A Mac version of the program is in preparation. Gottfried has similar plans for a final version of his composition program "Project 2", which he developed shortly after "Project 1" and has much greater compositional potential. This program was hitherto not always operational; due to its size, adapting it to technical advances in computer development was a cumbersome business. Gottfired Michael Koenig’s theoretical writings are published in five volumes by Pfau-Verlag, Saarbrucken (Germany), under the title "Aesthetische Praxis". An index will appear this year as volume six.