Max E. Keller

* 19.03.1947

Max E. Keller was one of the first free jazz musicians in Switzerland. From 1966 until 1973 he followed his own concept performing free jazz and improvised music on the piano and electronic instruments in concerts or for radio recordings in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Since 1973 Keller has produced over 90 compositions for various forces including electronic music. He often sets texts to music, examples include his ‘Gesänge II’ (Erich Fried); ‘Gesänge III’ (Jürg Weibel) and ‘Gesänge IV’ (Kurt Marti); ‘Konfigurationen’ (I, II and III – various authors); ‘Deformationen’ (self-written texts); the feature-length cantata ‘Fontamara’ (Ignazio Silone), the mini-opera ‘Egon – aus dem Leben eines Bankbeamten’ (Hans Suter) and the chamber opera ‘Die Axt’ after Max Frisch’s ‘Graf Öderland’ (2004-2006), a commission for the Komischen Oper Berlin. Performances and radio broadcasts in the whole of Europe, Australia, North and South America, Russia, Mongolia, Korea and Azerbaijan are a part of his career history. Keller began improvising again after 1985 and since 1985 is responsible for the programme and organisation of contemporary music and jazz concerts at the ‘Theater am Gleis’ in Winterthur.
1985 - Swiss representative at the biennale in Berlin
1991 - Swiss representative at the IGNM Weltmusiktagen in Zurich
1993 - Swiss representative in Mexico
1997 - Art prize of the Carl-Heinrich-Ernst-Foundation in Winterthur
1999 - Berlin stipend
2001 - Project contribution (commission from the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich)
2003 - Contribution to the artistic work of the Aargauer Kuratorium
‘Sicher sein ...’ (speaker and electronic tape) and ‘Repetitionen I-V’ (harpsichord) were recorded onto LP and ‘Pentalog’ (orchestra) and ‘Sie’ (speaker and electronic tape) onto CD; two CDs (col legno and Jecklin Edition) are dedicated solely to his chamber musical works, a third CD (Grammont-Portrait) containing five chamber musical works and one orchestral work (Tonhalle-Orchester conducted by David Zinman) was released in 2003.

Max E. Keller
Stockenerstr. 30
CH-8405 Winterthur
Fon: +41 (0)52 232 74 11
Fax: +41 (0)52 232 74 11



Friedenslied eines Oboisten (1983)
for oboe
Order No: 2644, sFr. 16.00
Poem by Burkhard Glaetzner.

Karikaturen (1987)
for wind quintet
Order No: 2649, sFr. 29.00

aushalten und bewegen (1988)
for accordion
Order No: 2650, sFr. 18.00
All procedures, with the exception of a few free figures, are derived from the contrast between recumbent sound (endure) and rhythmically structured repetitions of sound (move). The title also focuses to all intents and purposes on the ‘extramusical’.

Erinnerungen V (1988)
for organ
Order No: 2651, sFr. 21.00

Ausharren im Grauen (1988)
for oboe, violoncello and piano
Order No: 2652, sFr. 21.00
"A trio-piece of coagulate sound, quasi-captivated nerviness with bursts of desperate fury" (Frank Schneider on the world premiere).

Kreisen in den Tiefen (1988)
for viola, violoncello and double bass
Order No: 2653, sFr. 18.00
Composed after the idea of monophonic lines with nuances in colour such as rotary movement and superimposition of rhythmical and melodic sequences.

Konfigurationen II (1989)
for alto and instrumental ensemble (flute, clarinet (bass clarinet), violin, violoncello, percussion and piano
Order No: 2605, sFr. 39.00
Texts: Franz Hohler, Hansjörg Schneider, Jürg Schmied, Sascha Anderson, Max E. Keller Eight texts, different in kind ranging from poetry to excerpts from military regulations. Theme: order fetishism as a contrast to a chaotic, self-destructive world. Authors: Franz Hohler, Hansjorg Schneider, Jürg Schmied, Sascha Anderson, Max E. Keller.

senza e con (1989)
for ensemble (fl.ssx.tsx.barsx/hn.3tpt.3tbn/pf/db)
Order No: 2655, sFr. 18.00

Das ganze Leben (1989/90)
Piano concert in 8 parts
Order No: 2606, sFr. 44.00
To explore the whole of vastness is the utopic aim, and yet the whole can only be seen in part. Dialectic between part and whole is expressed in terms of the exploration to extremities of a dimension and the freezing of other parameters. A simple orchestral part with aleatoric passages in which each individual plays independently.

Zuflucht (1990)
for alto and piano
Order No: 2673, sFr. 13.00
8th text of the 'Konfigurationen II' in a reduction for Alto and piano.

Swissfiction (1990)
Musical theatrical scenes
for four actors(esses), four musicians ( and a four-channel tape
Order No: 2656, sFr. 34.00
Text: Alex Gfeller Based on Alex Gfellers story 'Das Komitee'.The cities of Switzerland are contaminated, be it with poison or radioactivity, the ozone layer is depleted many paths leading to destruction have long been foreseen. Only few have survived and sit vegetating in their shelters underneath the ruins of earlier prosperity. Some have already mutated, others live in a world of delusion.

Konfigurationen III - January 1991 (1991)
for oboe (or flute), bassoon, guitar and piano
Order No: 2657, sFr. 18.00
The musicians also perform scenic actions and speak a couple of sentences.

Mozmax (1991)
Transformations of W.A. Mozart's "Salzburger Sinfonie" KV 138
for strings
Order No: 2658, sFr. 18.00

Strich-Punkt-Strich (1992)
for string sextet
Order No: 2607, sFr. 26.00
The title identifies the structure cells from which the composition is deduced, both in the large and small: Sustained tone - shorter tone - sustained tone. A rich sound world blooms from this modest idea.

Gesänge IV - 10 Gedichte von Kurt Marti (1992)
for soprano and instrumental ensemble (flute, clarinet (bass clarinet), violin, violoncello and piano)
Order No: 2608, sFr. 23.00
Text: Kurt Marti The poems are taken from different collections to form a cycle, the inner and outer components of which convey particularly Swiss characteristics: weighty burden, efficiency, precision as a substitute for happiness and indifference. The soprano's phraseology encompasses both recitative and flamboyant melodies.

zerblasen (1992/93)
for instrumental ensemble (
Order No: 2609, sFr. 26.00
An obsessive, pulsating sequence is stopped down again and again and shortened whenever some sound fields establish themselves in the interstitial. A new multifaceted music replaces the worn down rhythm.

Neungestalt (1993)
for percussion solo
Order No: 2610, sFr. 18.00
A musical form of nine groups with nine variations in which one of the nine membranophones is featured. Drum kit, containing two bass drums (with pedals).

Vier Klavierstücke (four piano pieces) (1993)
Order No: 2611, sFr. 39.00
Each piece (which can also be performed separately) starts with a simple, spontaneous idea, developed more extensively in an improvised manner and then contrasted. No. 1 and 2 are easy, No. 3 more difficult, while No. 4 contains quickly repeating and rapidly changing chords.

Es ist kalt (1993)
for youth choir or female choir
Order No: 2659, sFr. 13.00

Konstellationen (1993/94)
for flute, violoncello and piano
Order No: 2660, sFr. 21.00
A dense, permanently shifting net of relations between instruments: one instrument acts ‘equal’ ‘similar’, ‘contrary’ or ‘concomitant’ to another.

Walk-Music (1994)
for flute, violin, guitar and percussion
Order No: 2661, sFr. 16.00
Each of the musicians follows his/her own course, whereby each independently repeats and varies a single sequence: Isolation, without contact, narcissism - sign of the times…

2. Streichquartett (2nd string quartet) (1995)
Order No: 2662, sFr. 18.00
Listen: Youtube

5 Improvisationsmodelle für Jugendliche (5 improvisation models for youths) (1995)

for 3-8 players of any instruments
Order No: 2663, sFr. 13.00
In N°s 2-5 performers lacking instrumental knowledge can use their voices, sounding objects or simple flutes and horns.

Ritardando (1995)
for three bassoons
Order No: 2664, sFr. 13.00

Siebensang (1995)
for flute
Order No: 2665, sFr. 16.00
Seven sections, each one of which places a different musical dimension (e.g. colour, rhythm, duration, dynamics, repetition, pulse) at its centre: intensive fathoming, probing search, insistent depiction.

Pentalog (1995/96)
for chamber orchestra (1.1.1(bcl).1/
Order No: 2612, sFr. 31.00
This work uses material by W. Bärtschi, U. Gasser, M. Sigrist and P. Wettstein written especially by them for the project ‘Kreuzende Wege’. Every movement of the material places a different colleague at the centre of attention.

Solitario (1996)
for flute, guitar and percussion
Order No: 2613, sFr. 16.00
Each instrument builds its own world using eight elementary figures; each goes its own way yet parallels are shown to exist. Relationships form and the dialectic of the controlled ‘own way’ and random combination begin to play.

Nononono (1996)
for violin solo
Order No: 2614, sFr. 16.00
Seven elements are developed into a combination according to the pattern A, AB, ABC,... and then once again reduced. This simple process is superposed and counterpointed with other structures in which dynamic and differentiation are of particular importance.
Listen: Youtube

les pompiers (souvenir de Berlin) (1996)
for four trombones, piano, electric guitar and electronic sound expansion
Order No: 2666, sFr. 16.00
Contains a large improvised portion - works humorously with the fire brigade-fourth. Simple pitch shifting and echoplex (quasi belt sander with a duration of 20 seconds).

weniger und mehr (1996)
for violin, accordion and piano
Order No: 2674, sFr. 18.00
This composition rotates around the thought that less on one level allows for more on another and vice versa - and this not only in music.

aufflackern und verlöschen (1997)
for tenor saxophone
Order No: 2675, sFr. 16.00
Eight elements are gradually built up and dismantled again. Within this simple complete-form occur numerous momentary flares and douses. This work uses polyphonics, the fingerings of which are notated and extensively extracted from Daniel Kientzy’s "Les sons multiples aux saxophones".

Deformationen (1998)
for soprano, flute and guitar
Order No: 2677, sFr. 23.00
Text: Max E. Keller, E. Galeano The setting to music of four of my own texts: Globalisation as worldwide exploitation of people and nature; freedon as unlimited and uninhibited profit maximisation; Education as manipulative conformation. The 5th text comes from Eduardo Galeano from Uruguay: repress how the rich countries accumulate their riches.
Listen: Youtube

Integration I (1998)
for string quartet and improvising trio
Order No: 2678, sFr. 18.00
This work leaves behind the identity of the classical tradition and its strengths (string quartet is widely notated; frequent free improvisation from the jazz tio (saxophone, piano and percussion)) and brings them together only there where real points of contact exist. Integration II and III are conceived in a similar way.

Miniatur (1998)
for flute solo
Order No: 2679, sFr. 13.00
For Heinrich Keller and the 100th concert of his "Musica Riservata". Virtuosic with numerous sound effects.

agieren und reagieren (1999)
for piano and electronic sound alteration (Boss SE-70)
Order No: 2680, sFr. 23.00
The player of the popular sound modulator reacts not only passively to the piano sounds but acts also actively like the piano itself.
Listen: Youtube

Mondlandschaft (1999)
for twenty-three wind instruments (3(3.pic)3.3(3.bcl).3/4.3.3(3.tbn).1) and three percussionists
Order No: 2681, sFr. 42.00
The musical procedure is, on the one hand side, reduced to the contrast between long and quiet rather than short and loud, on the light/dark of the barren moon surface; on the other hand side, it is formed with great subtlety in sound and structure.
Listen: Youtube

Rotondo (1999)
for nonet (oboe, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, viola, double bass, accordion, piano and percussion)
Order No: 2682, sFr. 122.00
A composition in cooperation with Werner Bärtschi, Ulrich Gasser, Max Eugen Keller, Martin Sigrist and Peter Wettstein ('Komponistensekretariat' Zurich) with sixty segments, each fifty seconds long. Cyclic composition.

Food (1999)
for percussion solo
Order No: 2684, sFr. 16.00
This piece is to be played on six plates, three glasses, pan lids, small bowls (and other things) while being seated at a table. The percussionist also sings. Eating as a celebrated ritual - in a world of famine.

Skizzen (1999)
for flute and guitar
Order No: 2685, sFr. 18.00

Integration II (1999)
for string quartet and improvising trio
Order No: 2686, sFr. 16.00

Integration III (1999)
for string quartet and improvising trio
Order No: 2687, sFr. 16.00

Dialogfelder (2000)
for double bass and percussion
Order No: 2689, sFr. 18.00
The instruments form a dialogue on fields of varying length, either in harmony or in contrast; differentiated rubbing noises play an important part in the adaptation. The percussion uses only two toms, two bongos, a cymbal, a thunder sheet and two woodblocks.
Listen: Youtube Youtube

insieme, a coppie, indipendente (2000)
for four percussion instruments
Order No: 2690, sFr. 21.00
This work is composed of a series of seven basic, quasi-archetypal structures that are repeated varyingly and are up to four times superposed: roll, punctual field, fade outs, pulse etc..
Listen: Youtube

25/250.orch (2000)
for symphony orchestra (2.2.2(bcl).2/
Order No: 2691, sFr. 47.00
The regular beat is one initial point of departure, on the one hand side, as a reference to the 'Winterthurer Musikfestwochen', a 25 year-young rock and pop festival and on the other, a reference to J.S Bach who died 250 years ago. The second point of departure is the fugal principle, in this instance, however, the fugal theme consists not of single tones but of total structures: clusters, sound surfaces, figures, punctual fields etc..

Three lines (2000)
for piano
Order No: 2683, sFr. 16.00
A composition created in cooperation with Werner Bärtschi and Martin Sigrist. A homage to J.S. Bach. Three very different strata combine to form surprising sounds.

Zwillinge (2001)
for clarinet (bcl), trombone, violoncello and piano
Order No: 2688, sFr. 18.00
This work is based on the interactions of the instruments in such a manner that the very close combination of twos (twins) are at the centre and with which one, two or no ‘free’ instruments can consort. The musical process is born of a dialectic between the above mentioned network and its realisation through three almost archetypal musical base models.

Sans cesse (2001)
for oboe, bassoon, horn, trombone, violin, viola, violoncello and double bass
Order No: 2692, sFr. 18.00

Fern(seh) - Mitleid (2001)
for soprano and violin
Order No: 2693, sFr. 16.00
Text: Max E. Keller A contribution to the 'Zepernicker Liederbuch', 2001.

tenuto, battuto, fulminante (2001)
for symphony orchestra (3.3.3(3, bcl).3(3, cbcl)/4.3.3(3, btbn).1/3perc/min.10.min.
Order No: 2694, sFr. 52.00
This work centres on the pulse and the tension between it and its opposite: sustained tone or sound. Both poles of the musical process are shaped with a maximum colour and tonal spectrum. A third basic element is brisk, loud walking movements, which fly down unexpectedly like a bolt from the blue. Commissioned by the ‘Aargauer Kuratorium’ for the ‘Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich’.

Farbenfahrten (2001)
for string trio
Order No: 2695, sFr. 21.00
Purely from our notation it is apparent that pitch and rhythm are primary in the European tradition: dynamic is already an auxiliary. ‘Farbenfahrten’ quasi-inverses these priorities: a sequence of six colours form the basis of the composition and remain present even when other dimensions of the music emerge more dominant.

Schnitt-Muster (2002)
for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion and string trio
Order No: 2697, sFr. 18.00
Sometimes completely different musical types or structural samples are set aside each other in a similar way to the effect achieved while zapping through television channels, sharp cuts which seem at first random are intentional. Even the other meaning of ‘cut-sample’, the prefabrication of something based on a template or the stereotypical also receives acknowledgement through the mimicry of musical styles. In this manner, various fields of popular music are touched upon - even contemporary music cannot escape.

Unione e tremolo (2002)
for violin and viola
Order No: 2698, sFr. 16.00
Conceived for a world premiere in the Gobi desert, this piece must be extremely desert-proof. Unisono and octavel sound doubling forms the initial starting point. This, on the one hand side, turns a contemporary music taboo into material and brings the sound and the drifting apart of the duo into play on the other.
Listen: Youtube

Inseln (2002)
for viola and violoncello
Order No: 2699, sFr. 16.00
World premiere: October 2002 in Reutlingen.

Wie ein Kanon (2002)
for four double-bass and four clarinets ad libitum
Order No: 26100, sFr. 18.00
World premiere: October 2002 in Berlin.

Le Croce (2002)
for ensemble (
Order No: 26101, sFr. 21.00
Created as a commission for the Swiss Expo 02, this piece takes the Swiss cross, apparent as pitch structures in the form of crosses, and places it at the centre of the composition. Initially as an interval-cross in quasi-negative form, it later appears manifold and differentiated in positive form.

Vom Grunde (2003)
for baritone and piano
Order No: 26102, sFr. 16.00
Texts: Barbara Köhler One can accept or rebel against tradition, for once I have accepted it and, without dislocation, composed a poem. Barbara Köhler wrote texts about the river Elbe - quiet, melancholic and with a pinch of antidote, particularly nice in the poems chosen by me.

Uf Ärde (2003)
for baritone solo
Order No: 26103, sFr. 13.00
Composed for the Roaring Hoofs in Mongolia, this short solo piece is an inverted variation on the lied ‘S Vreneli ab em Guggisbärg’, which begins vastly removed from the folksong but gradually approaches it until the original finally sounds.

3. Streichquartett (3rd string quartet) (2003)
Order No: 26104, sFr. 18.00
Five simple, quasi-archetypal structures form the basis of this work: accents with differentiated final notes, punctual and cliché fields, sound surfaces, repetitions and pulse. It offers, with simple clarity, an opportunity for the listener to follow the musical process and, more particularly, the form which it supports.

Changements (2003)
for tuba, percussion, piano and live electronics (BOSS SE-70)
Order No: 26105, sFr. 21.00
Changements - between various instrumental groups, between natural and transformed sound, between calm and hectic, between cut and transition, between air and tone, between pulse and free rhythm, between repetition and progress, between sound and noise, between…

Verschmelzungen (2003)
for recorder (alto and bass) and piano
Order No: 26106, sFr. 26.00
There is rarely a greater difference noted between two instruments regarding sound generation, volume, appearance and aura than between the piano and the recorder. To compose fusions of these two instruments was a challenge, which is relayed to the performers who must reach out to the very limits of playability.

calmo e furioso (2003/04)
for clarinet (bass clarinet), accordion and double bass
Order No: 26107, sFr. 26.00
The initial point of departure for this composition is the contrast between calm and hectic, unfolded in transitions and tempo cuts on nine basic figures which, with time, develop a rich life of their own. The initial impetus provokes processes on other levels - almost like in real life.

Kalkül und Emotion (2004)
for saxophone quartet (satbar) and string quartet
Order No: 26108, sFr. 18.00
This work forms the intertwining, togetherness and conflict of the two quartets with calculated emotional intention. The security net provided by the rational prearrangements allows greater freedom and confidence in the emotional decisions made regarding concrete sounds, instruments, complexity and developments.

Löwen Löwen (2004)
for soprano and violin
Order No: 26109, sFr. 21.00
Text: Klaus Merz In laconic, melancholic and simultaneously playfully poetic miniatures Klaus Merz mirrors in ‘Löwen Löwen’ surprising facets of the much praised lagunal city of Venice. Profound ambiguity is the point of departure for this musicalisation which partly proceeds as if on two levels before reuniting unawares.

Graduale (2005)
for mixed choir, clarinet in B ad libitum, and percussion (2 toms, 2 bongos, cymbals) ad libium
Order No: 26110, sFr. 18.00
(Including clarinet part)
Text: Silja Walter

Selbstgespräche (2006)
for piano and live electronics
Order No: 26111, sFr. 23.00
These days, a machine is increasingly the conversational partner of humans and so it is in "Selbstgespräche". A small digital apparatus is positioned directly onto the piano and is operated predominantly by the pianist using two foot pedals. The apparatus changes, morphs or repeats that which is played by the pianist, who in turn reintervenes in this transformed sound.

nel pomeriggio (2006)
for baritone saxophone and string quartet
Order No: 26112, sFr. 23.00
(Parts available from the composer)
A comfortable afternoon in a dusty café: As in times past, a string quartet plays a waltz that nobody listens to, a never-ending, continuously repetitive violin melody and an almost imperceptibly shifting accompaniment. Added to this is a completely inappropriate baritone saxophone - sometimes blending in, sometimes detached and sometimes obstinately defiant. Suddenly a bang! And everything collapses into shadowy ruins.

Eingriffe (2006)
for flute, clarinet, piano, violin, viola and violoncello
Order No: 26113, sFr. 34.00
(Parts available from the composer)
The initial material consists of two melodies and two rhythmical sequences; these can be varied causing their superpositions to result in a countless number of related musical forms. The recurring formal idea is the "undampered clew": a dense, wide mesh that thins out then squeezes itself into the centre of the sound space. In this clear, goal-orientated process, diversity is encroached upon: three instruments temporarily break out of the process, colourful accents engage with the continuous mezzo forte, the process stops momentarily, the residual viola tips over into the realms of noise etc.

Schlaglichter (2006)
for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, double bass and percussion
Order No: 26114, sFr. 21.00
These three miniatures are the reshaping of the structure and instrumentation of three laconic parts of my opera "Die Axt" after "Graf Öderland" by Max Frisch, which I composed as a commission for the Komischen Oper Berlin. Schlaglicht I is taken from the end of the 2nd act. In Schlaglicht II, the wind instrumentalists play excerpts from the three trumpets in the 1st act, while the percussion and double bass develop a new oppositional layer. Schlaglicht III transposes almost the entire 5th act where the bassoon and oboe intonate the duet between the central character and his partner, while the clarinet and double bass play the accompanying trumpet and tuba and the percussion brings in a new line.

gebündelt und ausfasernd (2007)
for flute, clarinet (bcl), violin and piano
Order No: 26115, sFr. 26.00
"gebündelt" (clustered) initially means the bringing together of different chords of varying duration, which then either die out, collapse or very quietly drift ("ausfasern"), that is to say dissolve in short, soft movements. The chords are in the forte range and vary throughout the composition with respect to dynamics and internal movement, repeating rhythms and timbral changes. The drifting ("ausfasern"), is also formed in a multifarious manner, but always remains in the quiet range.

Les sons perdus (2007)
for three recorders (alto + sopranino, alto + soprano, alto + bass(f))
Order No: 26116, sFr. 21.00
Since the emancipation of dissonance and the break with tonal music, the third has largely become a taboo, a lost sound. For centuries the foundation of harmony and even today a primary component of popular music, it has been dismissed in art music as the symbol of a pseudo-ideal world. "les sons perdus" attempts to encounter and thematise this impoverishing constraint of sound by using a major third together with a variable additional interval to establish the structure of six formal components.

12-06-07 (2007)
for soprano, oboe, alto saxophone, horn and viola
Order No: 26117, sFr. 34.00
A text about statistically the most frequent causes of death in Switzerland takes its course and is interspersed by ten extremely varied newsflashes from real life, all of them objets trouvés from two daily newspaper of 12th June, 2007. The statistical information is set to music in a recitative manner with very few, primarily sustained notes. This is in contrast to the ten newsflashes whose music is composed with lively movements and a tangible pulse in various structures. The somewhat macabre text montage reflects the apparent phenomenon of the sometimes-grotesque contrast of various themes and texts, which seems to magically attract humans.

concertare e improvvisare (2007)
for flute, oboe, clarinet (bcl), violin, viola, violoncello and improvising piano
Order No: 26118, sFr. 26.00
This work contrasts notated music with improvised music. The sextet is extensively notated; the piano merely has several verbal suggestions. There are, however, also moments of improvisation in the sextet where, for example, each instrument initially and independently of the others repeats a phrase, which gradually changes following verbal instructions. Each begins this process with great intensity, playing as loud and as quickly as possible – very much in the style of early free jazz.

allemal (2007)
for soprano, clarinet (bcl) and piano
Order No: 26119, sFr. 29.00
Text: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg "It is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd without singing somebody's beard." One of ten aphorisms written by Lichtenberg more than two hundred years ago - and still surprisingly relevant today. This musical version attempts to transpose the concise, acuminate formulation into succinct, very divergent miniatures.

Wie Kraut und Rüben (2008)
After the picture bearing the same title by Paul Klee
for oboe, bassoon, guitar and viola
Order No: 26120, sFr. 16.00
In the painting "Wie Kraut und Rüben" by Paul Klee transparent white dots are spread over a red background in irregular rows and create thereby a subtle pulsation within a regular grid. By painting over the dots with the brush, these dots turn into lines, spots and signs. This technique, which Klee called "pointillate", has been transposed to dots of sound, arranged in rows, superimposed in irregular, free rhythms by the four instruments.

Cinque (2008)
for five bassoons
Order No: 26121, sFr. 16.00
How can a quartet arrive at the title "Cinque" (five)? The form is made up of five basic structures, which are repeated in sequence a total of five times. The temporal structure overlying this form comprises five different durations, which occur quasi-on average five times. Only the outer pattern of the music is thus written, the 'barrel' so to speak. What the wine has to offer is only apparent while drinking it. And as the 4 bassoons work intensely together, something new is created, from the four comes a fifth.

Schwein gha! (2008)
Song for children
for children's voice and piano accompaniment
Order No: 26122, sFr. 13.00
Texts: Mex E. Keller The text is based on short essays by 9 year-old pupils and reflects their personal experiences of the theme "being lucky". The song presents three such experiences in three strophes. The melody is slightly modal, set in a 32-beat song form and terminated by a refrain.

"Fünf Improvisationsmodelle für Jugendliche" sowie "In Regen, Blitz und Donner" (2008)
ad libitum
for youths with any instruments (including everyday objects and carnival market instruments) + 2 saxophones and violoncello
Order No: 26123, sFr. 21.00
The improvisational models "Kartenspiel", "Zündschnur", "Sonntagnachmittag", "Wasserfall" and "Gewitter" are first and foremost to be understood as individual concepts. Duration and instrumentation remain open. The pieces can be realised using normal instruments or everyday objects (plastic bags, paper, pan lids, table tops, pieces of wood, pieces of metal, cutlery, crockery etc.). "Wasserfall" and "Kartenspiel" are possible exceptions as the graphics require pitch and pitch modulation, but even this can be realised using carnival market instruments, lotus flutes or the voice as well as conventional instruments. "Gewitter" can also be the framework of a whole form: One of the other concepts can be played during a stop under a balcony etc.. "In Regen, Blitz und Donner" is ultimately a through-composed version of the preceding possibility where three further instruments are added.

accent - figure - layer (2008)
A project between improvisation and composition
for bass clarinet/tenor saxophone, percussion, piano, violin, viola and double bass
Order No: 26124, sFr. 26.00
The wide scope between improvisation and composition is calibrated. There are, however, no long notated passages but form sequences, short notated phrases as starting points, verbal instructions and graphics - right through to improvisation as one extreme. The musical material is based on the archetypal elements 'accent', 'figure' and 'layer' as mentioned in the title. The through-composed parts "unione e tremolo" for violin and viola (movement II) and the violin solo "NONONONO" (movement VII) are inserted between the six movements as the other extreme.
Listen: Youtube

hasten und warten (2008)
for violin and live electronics
Order No: 26125, sFr. 16.00
The volatile and varying movements of everyday life, a little like the "stop and go" of traffic, provides the basic feeling of tempo for modern times. Irregular rhythms in music are a reflection of this. In "Hasten und Warten", this is taken as the model for the form. The change between stop and go is regular, however, the duration of each section is irregular, ranging from 1 second to 83 seconds. The violin and electronics do not always ride parallel but also in opposition: the violin remains static and the electronics give the impulse or vice versa. The movement contrast does not appear thus in succession but also contrapuntal in simultaneity.

Dialogues (2008)
for guitar and live electronics
Order No: 26126, sFr. 16.00
Both partners are handled equally. The electronics do not only remain passive but also take the initiative. Sometimes the guitar remains on a percussive sample and the electronics answer with increasingly hectic movements, at other times both partners move with varying pulse, as though on two levels, at other times still, the guitar gives the impulse, occasionally there is an intensive improvised interaction with rapid and spontaneous role changes.

4th string quartet (2008)
Order No: 26127, sFr. 18.00

Wendepunkte (2009)
for piano, percussion and string quartet
Order No: 26128, sFr. 34.00
For advanced amatuers. This piece was composed for the music Matura. The education of young people is the same for all until the Matura stage. Here, at the first major turning point in their lives, individuals must decide which direction they wish to take. Thus the 'turning point' became one fundamental concept behind this work, walking together and walking alone became another. They are processed on various levels - both on the quasi-motif and the formal.

Il filo (2009)
for violin and horn
Order No: 26129, sFr. 18.00
Il filo (the thread) is the name of the underlying theme: the sustained note, from which other things slowly emerge, split off or even oppose. The two instruments start unisono while the sustained tone soon gets rhythmized and played around by a second tone. They veer away from the unisono to find themselves reunited on the same note after various phases. In the final part both spin together or alternately on the same thread, leave it, play around it and give it individual colours.

blau rot soft (2009)
for three sopranos
Order No: 26130, sFr. 18.00
A collective composition with Susanne Stelzenbach and Ralf Hoyer; text by the composers. Special guidelines and a structural framework are essential if a good, tonal whole is to be the result of a collective work. Once these two elements are in place the composing can follow freely and independently. The three singers, who sing largely independently of one another, become individual characters. "Blau fällt der Regen am Morgen / Blau, wenn leise der Tag beginnt (…) Schwarz wird der Pflasterstein / Blau schien der Himmel vor Zeiten, / Wenn der Sommer begann (…) / Leis' fällt der Regen am Mittag, / Schwarz glänzt der Asphalt, / Nass wird der Weg. / Und der Abend ? / Und die Nacht ?" (Max E. Keller)

Blauer Regen (2009)
for soprano solo
Order No: 26131, sFr. 16.00
Texts: Max E. Keller Solo version of the collective composition "blau rot soft" together with Susanne Stelzenbach and Ralf Hoyer. "Blau fällt der Regen am Morgen / Blau, wenn leise der Tag beginnt (…) Schwarz wird der Pflasterstein / Blau schien der Himmel vor Zeiten, / Wenn der Sommer begann (…) / Leis' fällt der Regen am Mittag, / Schwarz glänzt der Asphalt, / Nass wird der Weg. / Und der Abend ? / Und die Nacht ? " (Max E. Keller)

Trio fluido (2009)
for violin, violoncello and piano
Order No: 26132, sFr. 21.00
Here we have three different elements that flow (a word used in its broadest sense): sustained sounds, wide-reaching melodies and an often repeated phrase from Swiss folk music. These elements are not only varied extensively, but also superimposed. Every so often, short and sometimes very strong opposing figures appear, occasionally cristalising out of the flow. Such opposing figures also form the finish, which leads into another world.

Peanuts (2009)
for flute, clarinet, violin, viola and violoncello
Order No: 26133, sFr. 18.00
Peanuts are trivialities, in this case a 3-minute scherzo for the 30th birthday of the Theater am Gleis. The well-known bebop piece "Salt Peanuts" is quoted in this work.

Grillen (2009)
for trumpet 1 in B, trumpet 2 in B, horn (F), trombone and tuba
Order No: 26134, sFr. 26.00
The chirping of crickets is generally considered to be soft and quiet, it can, however, become truly clamorous when when many crickets are heard at close quarters - just as one can experience it in the copses or groves of Greece. What is apparently weak can, en mass and under specific circumstances, develop unimagined power. In German the word for cricket is 'Grillen' and carries with it another maeaning: fantastical or dull thoughts.

Movements (2009)
for piano
Order No: 26135, sFr. 16.00
This work was created for the World New Music Days 2010 in Australia, where short piano pieces created in a day were invited to participate. This piece is thus a quasi written improvisation. The repetition of an open chord that is widely varied, yet remains in the middle part of each hand, led to the idea of alternating a weak, gradual, so to say 'inner movement' with sudden, stronger changes.

ich, du, wir (2010)
for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, violoncello
Order No: 26136, sFr. 16.00
Composed for the 25th anniversary of the 'ensemble für neue musik zürich', this short piece attempts to trace the path to togetherness (ensemble), from I to we. A unity is drawn twice from a dense fabric of independent lines, initially on a trill surface and then in unison at the end.

Snowflakean Thoughts (2010)
for speaking voice, alto saxophone and piano
Order No: 26137, sFr. 16.00
This short piece is composed after a text by James A. Emanuel (USA). Together with millions of his kind, the snowflake dreams of calling into being a democratic kingdom - and the setting to music of this poem is just as fluffy. It can aslo be performed by amateurs.

Pourquoi (2010)
for speaking violin
Order No: 26138, sFr. 18.00
This solo piece, based on a text by Anthony Phelps (Haiti/Canada), was composed for the franco-anglais de poésie festival in Paris. The poem broaches the contrast between nature, which is entirely and undoubtedly what it is, and man as a reflective being: Pourquoi. The setting to music of this piece uses this contrast and mirrors it in two structures: long, oblivious sounds and systematically growing structures.

Gravuren (2010)
for string quartet and percussion
Order No: 26139, sFr. 26.00
This composition is based on a process or a figurative concept: one or several lines are engraved into a surface, derived from the opposing string surface and percussion line. Surfaces and lines exist in the most varied of forms, colours, intensities and mutations thereof, and the contrast traverses various grades and forms. By utilising three cardboard boxes, the percussion section is also able to play flat rubbing noises that create an approximation of everyday sounds. The spectrum expands at various points throughout the work when totally different elements are suddenly introduced.

Où est le roi? (2010)
for flute, violin, violoncello and organ
Order No: 26140, sFr. 23.00
1747: King Friedrich II challenged J.S. Bach to create a 3-part fugue over his own fugue theme, which resulted in 'The Musical Offering'. 2010: The Schweizer Kammerensemble challenged five very different composers to work with the same fugue theme. I transformed it with a contemporary edge into a theme consisting of 2 x 12 different tones - in the sense of 12-tone music but with a slight irregularity. The relation to Bach is initially almost imperceptible, a connection can only be drawn from the rhythm and the fluctuation in colour of the noise-like string sounds. The theme undergoes the normal transformations until it finally emerges in quasi purity.

1968 - und heute? (2010)
for tenor/countertenor and recorder
Order No: 26141, sFr. 26.00
Texts: Max E. Keller Three aspects of the 1968 movement in three sections: The USA War against Northern Vietnam caused worldwide protestation, which led in 1975 to the beaten withdrawal of the Americans. Today's united Vietnam is a thriving country and a rich source of mineral deposits. The Shah's visit to Berlin in June 1967 and the shooting of a protesting student by police triggered a further youth revolt in 1968. The Shah was soon forced to stand down and the Islamists picked up the sceptre in a dubious success. In ist widest sense, the then ideal of a self-determined yet solidly life gave way to a new conformism and apathy and a bureaucratically regulated society. This setting does not make use of today's ready-made pop idiom, but explores a rather more independent, colourful and diversified musical implementation of this unconventional instrumentation. Voice and recorder often move on different levels by reacting to different textual dimensions. This sound world thus reflects the spontaneity, fantasy and abandon of 68 without the superficial duplication of the textual content.

Shopping List (2011)
for speaking voice, alto saxophone and piano
Order No: 26143, sFr. 16.00
Texts: Barry Wallenstein

Pour aller mieux (2011)
for tenor, tenor saxophone and piano
Order No: 26144, sFr. 18.00
Texts: Jean Miniac.

Mutter Natur (2011)
for soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet in B (basscl), percussion, piano, violin, viola, violoncello
Order No: 26145, sFr. 34.00
Texts: Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, Max E. Keller As disseminated throughout the Enlightenment, F. G. Klopstock also saw the beauty of nature as the work of God and exalted the creator with hymns of praise. When this is quasi secularised, we end up not a million miles away from today's 'green' understanding of nature being a force to be respected and preserved as the foundation of life. In this sense, a text montage of fragments from "Die Frühlingsfeier" and "Der Zürchersee" is set against current traffic reports - a conspicuous symbol of the modern destruction of nature. This conflict is played out as extremely contrasting base structures, which form the starting point of the musical process. Two of these structures initially undergo a block-like exposition, whereby a spoken traffic jam report is installed into a quiet and distant underlying sound highlighted by a noise surface. Transitions between one structure and another then take place to represent the process of degradation or destruction. The extremes are, however, never resolved as this would merely serve as an aesthetic reconciliation of what in reality remains oppositional.

Abschied (2011)
for 16 a-cappella voices
Order No: 26146, sFr. 26.00
Texts: Max E. Keller 'Abschied' (farewell) accompanies the quasi last hours of a close and loved person. A continuous life tone remains at a constant pitch, but is widely varied and modulated as it fights in vain against the innevitable demise. These tones contrast againt an intensive life and finally ebb away.

wanawizzi II (2011)
for flute, clarinet, violin and violoncello
Order No: 26157, sFr. 26.00
In unserer Welt finden sich zahlreiche wahnwitzige Widersprüche: Regierungen von Ländern mit reichen Rohstoffvorkommen lassen ihre Bevölkerung im Elend versinken... "wanawizzi" (althochdeutsch für Wahnwitz) transformiert solche Antagonismen in musikalische Prozesse. Jedes der vier Instrumente repetiert permanent eine eigene rhythmische Sequenz, deren Länge sich von den anderen leicht unterscheidet, so dass ein dichtes Gewebe entsteht. Die vier rhythmischen Sequenzen werden von einer 12-Tonreihe überlagert. Sukzessive verkürzt sich die Tonreihe, so dass ein Instrument nach dem anderen auf einer Tonwiederholung endet, wobei diese vier Schlusstöne einen Dominantseptakkord bilden.

wanawizzi (2011)
for chamber orchestra (
Order No: 26158, sFr. 52.00
Our world full of preposterous contradictions: countless humans starve while there is enough food produced on earth to feed them... wanawizzi (Old High German: Wahnwitz (Engl.: madness)) transforms such antagonisms into musical processes. Each of the 32 instruments acts independently, permanently repeating a particular rhythmical sequence that becomes ever more divided. In stark contrast to this extraordinarily complex rhythmical mesh, the pitches remain constant, only shortly at first, then ever longer, and always on a dominant seventh chord.

Ruh' (2011/12)
for soprano and violoncello (or soprano and baritone)
Order No: 26142, sFr. 18.00
Texts: Max E. Keller As with many of my compositions, Ruh' (calmness) is based on a richly varied yet simple and easy-to-follow model. Soprano and violoncello continuously find calmness on a quiet unisono, an octave or double octave paraphrased on tonal, rhythmical or sound colour levels. This is followed by a "solo" or "a due" break out into turbulent fields - sometimes also indicated in the lyrics - and the return to a resting tone. Almost like in real life.

Die Schwestern (2011/12)
for soprano and double bass (or soprano and piano)
Order No: 26147, sFr. 18.00
Texts: Christian Morgenstern In a dialogue between a bell and a cannon, the cannon exhibits ist sisterly nearness: "Today they are yours and pray, tomorrow they are mine and kill." The bell vehemently rejects this kinship with the cannon. But is the cannon really wrong? Are religion and War not often twinned? On the one hand, the musical setting accentuates the contrast between the soprano and double bass, even working within the two parties with extreme contrasts. On the other hand, the double bass occasionally ascends the lofty heights of the soprano and twins itself with the voice.

Das Tattoo blickt böse (2012)
for soprano and string quartet
Order No: 26150, sFr. 29.00
Der Text ist von Rock-Lyrik inspiriert: direkt, realitätsbezogen und doch sprunghaft assoziativ. Er stellt die Frage, ob sich das Rebellisch-Unangepasste - wie es ein Tattoo ursprünglich manifestiert - sich nicht längst verschliffen und mit der Konsumwelt verbrüdert hat, deren Leerformeln in den Text einmontiert sind. Spielerisch-kritisch geht auch die Vertonung mit Elementen des Rock um, indem hinter der komplexen Welt zeitgenössischer Musik immer wieder ein Pulsieren und der rocktypische Backbeat wahrgenommen werden können, was gelegentlich die ganze Struktur erfasst, aber auch in dichten Klangfeldern versickert.

Der Rutengänger (2012)
for oboe, bassoon, guitar and viola
Order No: 26151, sFr. 23.00
Nach dem Gemälde "Landschaft mit dem Rutengänger"(1923) von Paul Klee im Kunstmuseum Winterthur (Auftrag musica aperta Winterthur). Paul Klee lässt einen stoppelhaarigen Rutengänger mit merkwürdig grossen, blauen Augen durch eine bizzar-kindliche Landschaft gehen. Über seinem Kopf ein riesiges, spiralförmiges Gebilde, in seinem Rücken ein fünfstöckiges Haus, ...... Die Komposition lässt soz. den Blick frei über das Bild schweifen, heftet sich an die eine und dann an die andere Form und übersetzt sie ziemlich direkt in musikalische Figuren und Prozesse. Diese werden dann neu, nach musikalischen Gesichtspunkten in einen Formablauf gebracht.

Les Fleurs du Mal (2012)
Four poems by Charles Baudelaire
for soprano and guitar
Order No: 26153, sFr. 23.00
Baudelaire's worldview is characterised by ambivalence: light is at the same time dark; flowers are 'the evil'. On the one hand is the search for beauty, on the other is the experience of spleen, the never-ending ennui. Transposed into music, the deep, bell-like tones of the guitar are broken by hard, dissonant accents - or dissonant chords slide into consonants and vice versa. The singing voice is characterised by a model that, following a rapid ascent, moves slowly downwards, often quasi-disintegrates or ossifies in ennui.

mit Pfiff (2012)
for flute, bass clarinet, piano, violin, viola and violoncello
Order No: 26155, sFr. 13.00
The leitmotif of this piece is indeed, as the title suggests (Pfiff = whistle), an instrumental whistle by the whole ensemble, which is followed in each case by a kind of echo - be it hard and loud accents or soft chords. (Trans.: mit Piff also translates as 'with flair' or 'with zing'). Dedicated to the Ensemble Theater am Gleis Winterthur for it's 20th anniversary.

Will it matter (2012)
for mezzo-soprano, soprano sax, alto sax and baritone sax
Order No: 26160, sFr. 18.00
On a poem by Heng Siok Tian from Singapur. "Will it matter if a poetry reader is male or female, brain or soul treasure? What height, weight, shape, colour is the measure of such readers: poetics considered? …."

zusammenwachsen (2012)
for bassoon and piano
Order No: 26161, sFr. 16.00
For teaching purposes. This short composition was created for Dieter Hähnchen's collection for teaching purposes. It begins with a stark contrast between the two dissimilar instruments: a quick, quiet piano motion in the middle register is followed immediately by a deep, loud and long tone from the bassoon. The motives are interchanged, successive becomes simultaneous, and other motives appear. An amalgamation process develops that finally plays out on a noise sound, multiphonic and rhythmical pulse level: the merging of that which does not immediately appear to belong together.

5. Streichquartett (2013)
Order No: 26148, sFr. 26.00
The 5th String Quartet was written in 2013: A world of incompatible contrasts, of insurmountable disparity regarding wealth, ideology, society and economy. This is reflected in the music by way of hugely contrasting fortissimo and pianissimo passages that usually follow each other without break. Occurring occasionally between these passages are very long general pauses, which can be understood as an extreme form of pianissimo. In the last part, the sections are less strictly designed, more colourful, using even two or more elements. But the result is not a synthesis; there is no convergence of fortissimo and pianissimo. Dedicated to the ensemble ECLAT (Seoul).

Al borde del abismo (2013)
for violin and piano
Order No: 26149, sFr. 18.00
That literature has more to do with the author than they wish to think is rarely disputed. But music too can be directly linked to a person's situation. Following a medical examination, I was left teetering on the edge of an inner abyss. This led to the creation of four excerpts, the sounds of which hang as if lost in tonal space and wither into noise. Two contrasting parts were then inserted: Emergent, quick, repetitively varied movements, which ultimately solidify again without consequence. From this, the music is twice again liberated in different ways before wild accelerando results in the instruments terminating abruptly.

Keim - con sorpresa (2013)
for flute clarinet (bcl), piano, violin, viola, violoncello
Order No: 26152, sFr. 34.00
This work develops from a simple kernel on the one hand, and displays surprising aspects on the other. And so the kernel grows exuberantly, quasi-uncontrolled, in unpredictable directions, notes remain surprising - like mistakes - enduring to form a surface of contrasts. Suggestions expand into preludes, after beats into codas; the surfaces become noise-like. These surfaces dominate from the middle part onwards, and the kernal fragments and repeats, simultaneously rising up as a pulse. In addition to the little surprises, four structures are spliced in, none of which have anything to do with the kernel: sorpresa.

Mobile (2013)
7' - 16'
for 1-5 instruments ad libitum
Order No: 26156, sFr. 16.00
In 'Mobile' each instrumentalist plays in any order the elements that appeal to him/her the most. Each has the same 25, highly disparate elements at their disposal. The social downside of such a free choice of dissimilar elements (and instruments) is arbitrariness, uniformity and disorientation. A typical example of this is the Internet: We are inundated by an endless torrent of information expressed here by spoken or sung texts, which include a sensational news report appearing alongside a detail of insurance law, news of a border incident alongside a rescue plan for the financial crisis and so on…

Wiederkehr und Veränderung (2013)
for soprano saxophone, trombone and accordion
Order No: 26159, sFr. 26.00
Wiederkehr (repetition) and Veränderung (variation) are archetypes of music, and perhaps even of life itself. A series of four basic structures are repeated four times, whereby the duration each time varies enormously, as does the characteristic of each of the basic models. Two of the four basic structures touch on repetition in their internal anatomy. The third basic structure is puzzle-like in its construction, whereby all three instruments repeat the same six elements several times and overlap. On another level, breathing/blowing - an existential basis of life - also plays an important part in this "wind trio".

mi ricordo (2014)
for piano solo
Order No: 26154, sFr. 18.00
The title 'mi ricordo' translates as 'I remember'. It refers to the 'theme', which I composed almost 50 years ago, being a starting point for improvisation. A contrasting element was introduced in 2014: a sequence of between four and eight-note chords with fixed, disparate dynamics. The chord sequence becomes a rhythmical model with longer values or pauses close to the end. Short motives can be heard between the chords, including ones that are derived from the theme: mi ricordo. Dedicated to Satoko Inoue.


Festival L'art pour l'Aar - November 2003
Michel Roth: Patera
Hans Eugen Frischknecht: Vier Stücke für Schlagzeugensemble
Hans Eugen Frischknecht: Streichquartett
Max E. Keller: insieme, a coppie, indipendente
Jean-Luc Darbellay: Shadows
Jean-Luc Darbellay: Ecumes
Heinz Marti: Passages
Jürg Wyttenbach: verScherztes
Jost Meier: Thème et variations
Katrin Frauchiger: Es ist alles anders
Ursula Gut: Aquamarin
Daniel Andres: Cinq pièces
Gérard Zinsstag: Fragmente
Alfred Schweizer: Glasfarben-Musik
(Leipziger Hornquartett, Leipziger Schlagzeugensemble, ensemble bern modern, Ensemble l'Itinéraire)

M&S 5042/2
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 185
Price CHF: 35.- (3 CDs)

ROTONDO oder "Die Kunst des Fügens"
Werner Bärtschi, Ulrich Gasser, Max E. Keller, Martin Sigrist, Peter Wettstein: Rotondo
(Ensemble Aventure)

stv/asm 016
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 118
Price CHF: 30.-

Max E. Keller
Max E. Keller:
Klingen im Gegenwind
Erinnerungen IV
Gesänge IV
aushalten und bewegen
(Hänggin; Bovet; Anzelotti; Brunner; Ensemble Opera Nova; Ensemble Aventure; Wulf)

Jecklin szene sCHweiz JS 310-2
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 107
Price CHF: 30.-

Kreuzende Wege - Komponistensekretariat Zürich
Peter Wettstein: Ritornelli
Max E. Keller: Pentalog
Werner Bärtschi: Federkopf
Ulrich Gasser: Pasticchio
Martin Sigrist: Incrociando
(Sinfonietta Wetzikon; Howard Griffiths)

Musiques Suisses MGB CTS-M 54
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 67
Price CHF: 30.-

Max E. Keller
Max E. Keller:
(Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; David Zinman)
(Johannes Nied; Victoria Ifrim)
(Gruppa Musica Insieme di Cremona)
agieren und reagieren
(Susanne Stelzenbach; Ralf Hoyer)
(Eiko Morikawa; Sarah Hornsby; Daniel Göritz)
2. Streichquartett
(Schlesisches Streichquartett)

Musiques Suisses MGB CTS-M 84
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 26
Price CHF: 30.-

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