8 & 9 August 2023 - Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt

International Conference, curated by Timo Hoyer and Kobe Van Cauwenberghe

This conference is part of the Darmstadt Summer Course, a two-week festival, international summer academy, discourse platform and artistic laboratory.

For more than half a century Anthony Braxton has played a key role in contemporary and avant-garde music as a composer, multi-instrumentalist, music theorist, teacher, mentor and visionary. Inspired by Jazz, European art music, and music of other cultures, Braxton labels his output Creative Music. This international conference is the first one dealing with his work.

Braxton’s career can roughly be divided into two working periods. The first one started when he joined the AACM in 1967 and lasted until the early 1990’s. Inspired by Muhal Richard Abrams and his fellow AACM colleagues he quickly developed his own methods for improvisation and composition using a system he called “Language Music”. He released his landmark solo album For Alto, toured with the band Circle, created his own ensembles and recorded music for a variety of labels, mostly European minors as well as for the international major Arista. In this period Braxton became a “superstar of the jazz avant-garde” (Bob Ostertag), even though he acted as a non-conformist and was thus perceived as highly controversial. As a composer he wrote music for piano, small and large ensembles, 100 tubas, orchestra, multiple orchestras and more. During these years he published his philosophical Tri-Axium Writings (three volumes) and Composition Notes (five volumes).


(photo by Dawid Laskowski)

In the second period Braxton enhanced some of his compositional principles from the earlier period, and partly redefined and reshaped some of his thoughts about music. It starts in the mid 1990s with the creation of his so-called Ghost Trance Music, a musical concept that creatively fuses elements of composition and improvisation. It became the foundation of the twelve components of a holistic system he called Tri-Centric Modeling. As a basic premise for this period he built up his Tri-Centric Foundation and founded a record label (Braxton House / New Braxton House). As of today he works on his not yet finished twelve-part opera, Trillium and in addition to Ghost Trance Music he developed other compositional systems within the holistic Tri-Centric Model, such as Diamond Curtain Wall Music (a study of interactive electronic sound), Falling River Music (a system of graphic scores), Echo Echo Mirror House Music (an interactive sound collage consisting of Braxton’s complete recorded output) and his latest prototype Thunder Music, which will be premiered as part of the Darmstadt Summer Course (7 August 2023).

The conference will address a variety of topics which are central to Braxton’s work. In addition to an interview with Braxton himself and a roundtable discussion with some of his close collaborators and experts, there will be several lectures by performers and leading researchers in the field, as well as two interactive workshops to give Summer Course participants a chance to directly engage with Braxton’s Creative Music.


Tuesday 8 August 

  • 09.30  Arrival & Greeting
  • 10.00  Welcome address Thomas Schäfer, Kobe Van Cauwenberghe & Timo Hoyer
  • 10.15  Timo Hoyer: Tri-Centric Modeling: “A system of becoming, not arriving”.
  • 11.00  Marc Hannaford: “He Sees Beauty in that Everlasting Struggle for Truth”: The Fugitive Music Theory of Anthony Braxton
  • 11.45  Break
  • 12.00  Paul Steinbeck: Braxton the Theorist
  • 12.45  Nina Polaschegg: How to analyse Braxton’s music?
  • 13.30  Lunch Break
  • 14.30  Katherine Young: The Trillium Opera Cycle
  • 15.10  Kyoko Kitamura: Syntactical Ghost Trance Music (remote)
  • 15.35  Anne Rhodes: Pine Top Aerial Music
  • 16.00  Break
  • 16.15  Elisabeth Harnik/Timo Hoyer: Anthony Braxton’s compositions for solo piano.
    A performance-lecture
  • 17.00  Harald Kisiedu in conversation with Anthony Braxton

Wednesday 9 August

  • 10.00  Kobe Van Cauwenberghe: The possibilities of a Creative Orchestra
  • 10.45  James Fei: Navigating Systems and the Unknown
  • 11.30  Break
  • 11.45  Workshop with James Fei for singers and instrumentalists: (Syntactical) Ghost Trance Music
  • 13.15  Lunch Break
  • 14.15  Round table discussion on Anthony Braxton’s legacy as a composer and thinker with James Fei, George Lewis, Alvin Singleton, Paul Steinbeck, Katherine Young, moderated by Harald Kisiedu
  • 15.30  Break
  • 15.45  Carl Testa: Designing Software for Anthony Braxton’s Echo Echo Mirror House Music
  • 16.30  Workshop with Carl Testa: Echo Echo Mirror House Music 



Lichtenbergschule (Mensa)
Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD)
Nieder-Ramstädter Str. 190
D-64285 Darmstadt

Free admission