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ZEHN MÄRSCHE UM DEN SIEG ZU VERFEHLEN for Winds and Percussion by MAURICIO KAGEL (Argentina, 1931 – 2008)

[#255] June 10, 2024

1979 | Flex Wind Ensemble | Grade 5 | 15’ | Suite

Argentinian composer, conductor and educator Mauricio Kagel

Zehn Märsche um den Sieg zu verfehlen, by Argentinian composer, conductor and educator Mauricio Kagel is our Composition of the Week.

The 10 marches to miss victory were composed between 1978 and 1979, for the radio play “Der Tribun”. Written for a political orator, wind instruments and loudspeakers.


The minimum instrumentation required is 6 wind instruments and 2 percussions. On the other hand, the composer leaves the performer completely free choice for the combination of instruments. Thus, the work can be played by a wind ensemble, or just a woodwind group, or as heard in this version, a brass group.

The total performance time for the 10 marches is approximately of 16’ minutes.

They can be played separately or in any desired order. The music is on rental at Peters.


Throughout his life, in the avant-garde but without contempt for the heritage of several centuries of music, Kagel never ceased to question, innovate, and invent. Maliciously, often provocatively, and never short of argument.

The 10 marches to miss victory, are a snub to musical theater as much as a squeaky satire of power.


Mauricio Kagel studied music, literature history, and philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires, becoming artistic advisor to the “Agrupación Nueva Música” at the age of 18. He is a co-founder of the Argentinian Film Archive, and a film and photography critic. At this time, he began composing his first instrumental and electroacoustic pieces. From 1955 to 1957, he was director of cultural activities at the University as well as conductor at the Teatro Colón.


In 1957, he moved to Cologne, where two years later he founded the “Kölner Ensemble für Neue Musik”, and between 1969 and 1975 he was in charge of the Cologne New Music Courses. Since 1974, he has held the chair of musical theater at the Hochschule für Musik.


Although Kagel did not found any "school" of his own, his thirty-five years of teaching had a major impact on many composers of a younger generation.


Kagel's work is extensive and varied. He is the author of compositions for orchestra, voice, piano and chamber orchestra, as well as numerous works for the stage, films, and radio plays.


In the early 1960s, the composer focused on instrumental theater, of which “Sur Scène” (1959) was the first output and established him as an authority on the landscape of European musical creation. Thereafter, his instrumental and scenic works multiplied, interspersed with symphonies of "open" conception, like “Hétérophonie” and “Diaphonies I, II and III.”


In the 1970s, he oriented his work towards deconstructing the great tradition (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms), confronting it with light music expressions. In 1970, “Ludwig van” underlined Kagel's inventiveness in the genres of stage, concert, film and radio through the impact of its film version. The following year, “Staatstheater”, which is considered one of his best works, preceded a return to the symphonic orchestra with “Variationen ohne Fuge”. Instrumental and theatrical pieces continued to interweave in this exploration of unheard-of sounds and music-producing gestures: from “Charakterstück” for zither quartet and “Exotica” for non-European instruments (1972) to the two operas “Die Erschöpfung der Welt” (1980) and “Aus Deutschland” (1981). In the 1980s, Kagel increasingly broke with conventions and aural habits: “Rrrrrrr...”, a set of 41 pieces (1980-1982), where some of these pieces are written for winds, and “Troisième quatuor à cordes” (1986-1987).


Kagel's theatrical spirit and sense of humor still underlie in the works of recent years, in which the composer returns more often to the use of more traditional instrumentation: “Die Stücke der Windrose” cycle for "saloon" orchestra (1991-94), “Études” (1992-96) and “Broken Chords”, for large orchestra (2002), “Quirinus' Liebeskuss” (2002), for vocal ensemble and instruments, “Fremde Töne” und “Widerhall” for orchestra (2005).


Mauricio Kagel is the recipient of numerous prizes: Koussevitzky Prize in 1965, Zürich's Scotoni Prize for Hallelujah in 1969, Adolf Grimme Prize: 1970, 1971, Karl Sczuka Prize from Radio Southwest Baden-Baden in 1980, Erasmus Prize in 1998, Maurice Ravel Prize in 1999, Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis in 2000, honorary doctorate from the Musikhochschule Franz Liszt Weimar and Jena in 2001, University of Texas Prize in 2005.

In addition, he has been awarded the Mozart Medal of Frankfurt, the French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, the German Bundesverdienst Orden and First Class and Member of the Berlin Academy of the Arts.



Other works for winds include:


  • Fanfanfaren, for 4 trumpets, (1993)

  • Rrrrr…., 11 pieces for winds, doublebass and percussions (1981 – 1982)

  • Abend, for double vocal quartet, trombone quintet, organ and piano (1972)

  • Fragende Ode, for double choir, winds, and percussion (1989)

  • L’invention d’Adolphe Sax, for saxophone quartet and chamber choir (2006)



More on Mauricio Kagel








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