Who is the Munich pianist who calls himself Stranger? – Munich

The story alone of how he found the right place, or the place found him, takes on biblical traits: for years, a musician from Germany followed his call to play the piano alone in a glass cube in the desert for 40 days. The King of Oman, Qabus bin Sa’id Al Sa’id, who has a fondness for Lake Tegernsee and musicians from Germany, hears about this and calls him to his court. But the king falls seriously ill, public life has to come to a standstill and the musician has to move on. Where? Namibia also has beautiful deserts, says a consultant who is there for television. After a few hours by plane, jeep and on foot, you reach a sandy hollow between black and red mountains. Infinite expanse. The musician knows: It doesn’t get any more lonely. He’ll be back soon to find the exact spot for his glass stage. He marches off. A tornado roars in, 60 meters high. He runs straight towards her, allows himself to be devoured, the roaring stops – and the outline of a wing remains in the sand.

Crazy, one might think, a fairy tale. But there are film recordings and witnesses like Pascal Guhr. The Munich native was the technical manager of the project in the Namib desert right from the start. He now had the tricky task of transporting a €60,000 concert grand to this barren landscape, and wrapping it in a greenhouse-like three by three by three meter box with a super membrane, custom-made by the Hightex company in Rimsting. In it he had to attach cameras and microphones that should record everything without interference, here in the windiest, hottest place on this 30-kilometer-wide plateau, the oldest place on earth unchanged by humans. “The Stranger is an artist with huge visions that are technically not easy to implement,” says Gühr.

But why strangers? who is the stranger The musician does not reveal that. Music doesn’t need names or faces, he thinks, it’s not about him, it’s about everything. Every morning, when he left his little sleeping hut in the Namib after meditation and marched into the cube to play, he donned a gloomy, amorphous mask, because every step was recorded from afar by cameras on the mountains and drones: Like a He often looks desert warriors from Star Wars. He had a speaker read the texts for his diary films, which he put on the Internet (www.stranger.org), so as not to give himself away with his Chiemgau accent. Aha, he revealed something to the SZ in the telephone interview, the only one he ever gave about the “Desert Symphony” project. Yes, he comes from Chiemgau, traveled to the most inaccessible places in the world, lived in Munich for a long time, worked as a musician, musical composer and producer, and has a family. Yes, he understands staging and is a perfectionist control freak – and thus counters doubters from the music industry who suspect that everything here is too smooth, too beautiful, too much like a film script.


> Open detailed view

In order to remain unrecognized, the artist puts on a mask for film and photo shoots.

(Photo: Manuel Hollenbach/Crushed eyes media)

Much happened as he had planned: his piano playing became a symphony. He collected stones and formed a work of art from them. The children from the area accompanied the team again and again and lit the stone clef in the sand as a beacon on the very last night. The exact time in 2017 was important to him, so that certain star constellations accompanied him and the full moon shone on the 39th night in order to “fully open it as a vessel” at this place of power.

For skeptics and classic purists, it may be too esoteric at this point. But in the course of his fateful life, the professional musician opened up more and more to a wider view of the sounding cosmos, that of the beatles in India, which Beethoven perhaps sensed in his “Pastoral” in F major (the key of nature), which the former radio director Joachim-Ernst Berendt explored in his programs “Nada Brahma – the world is sound” and books . That’s the key to understanding why Stranger – like Jesus – went into the desert for 40 days to find himself and to touch everyone and everything.

type="image/webp">World premiere: A huge clef, impressively set in a band.

World premiere: A huge clef, impressively set in a band.

> Open detailed view

A gigantic clef, impressively set in a band.

(Photo: Manuel Hollenbach/Crushed eyes media)

It all started when he was clinically dead for a few minutes at 27, came back and discovered his “gift” of being able to hear anyone’s key and melody ever since. During a spiritual seminar week he had many intensive encounters, too many. “After three days I felt like I was going insane, my head was full of voices playing like radio stations.” He found a piano behind a screen in the hall and played himself free of all the melodies, after an hour he was empty, looked around the corner and saw 60 people crying, sitting on the floor, touched: “Not because of me, they had their own melodies heard.” From then on the vision grew within him of what he would play if he listened to himself in total isolation for a long time: what pure nature would fill into his vessel.

24 tone sequences flowed from Stranger’s fingers in the Namib, he calls them fractals. They didn’t seem completely unknown to him: Wagner, Debussy, Dvorak from his piano student years were certainly haunting them. With these building blocks, Stranger composed a symphony. Then he turned it into an orchestral work in California with the help of the Munich film composer David Bertok, who lives there. They recorded the “Desert Symphony Mankind” in Bratislava on CD. Now, on October 23, five years after leaving the desert, the world premiere in concert is scheduled for the Old Congress Hall in Munich. The Czech National Orchestra plays the four movements to the stunning film footage of animals, stars and sand: “Departure – Rise – Fall – Awakening”.

A lot was planned. Stranger even had the Munich piano builder Julian Motyczka into the cube to tune the grand piano several times while he himself was dragging thousands of stones for his sculpture, which would ultimately be 120 meters tall (he had it from the Thai king, who, like him, appreciates the human nature of Mood of 432 hertz swears fly in). Sweating up to 47 degrees, there were the expected three crises including a nervous breakdown on day 30 just banging away at the keyboard, and the overwhelming unleashing of his innermost self in the days that followed, an epiphany if you will (like her often described around this phase of isolation).

Some things appeared all of a sudden, flashes of inspiration and thunderstorms: the rain of the century, the first precipitation in the depression for years. And the increasingly important idea of ​​breaking “mankind” rules. This time that of the music business: the symphony is copyright-free, anyone can use it. No one can own music, Stranger says he himself is “just the instrument”. He wants to break more habits when he soon travels around the world with a caravan of like-minded people – in search of the song that sleeps in all things. When they play wherever they can. Only for himself “in a landscape full of sounds”. Or for audiences that – break the rules! – not suspecting that it is an audience. He wants to attack from an ambush with his troupe, he already calls such spontaneous concerts “guerrillicals”.

And maybe there are four in the group of his music disciples who, after his lonely “40.1”, join the more sociable project “40.2”. He already has the picture in front of him: five cubes this time, hung up in jungle trees at the “most wonderful waterfall in the world” in Venezuela, in which he and four other instrumentalists develop a new language from scratch using only sounds: “Bah” for yes, “bahbah” for no, and so on. It’s supposed to start in 2024, or rather ’25, everything has to be perfect. In twelve years he wants to complete the big Weltenklang project in an ice desert where the sun never sets. Because he’s after the unfathomable, he has to plan before he can let go.

The article is in German

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