One current project is to release and disseminate selections of Brün’s compositions for theater (Op. 22). We’ve been gathering and organizing all of the theater music, whose audio traces have been digitized from their original reel-to-reel form—thanks to many months of hard work (thanks to Andrew Heathwaite, Paul Kotheimer, and Scott Wyatt!). The theater music output is large: Herbert composed music for over 15 productions, with more than 6 hours of recorded sound and 200+ pages of score materials. For the play Faust, Herbert composed “music with the help of the electronic studio” (as he himself put it)—a first in those days, both to use the electronic studio, and to use those sounds for a live theater production. It was the music for this theater production that triggered Lejarnen Hiller to invite Herbert to move from Germany to become a research assistant at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1963.
Brün’s thinking and composing developed ideas of anticommunication and composition in music, language and social structures. These compositions for theater expand our understanding of the range of Herbert’s inventiveness as he responded to the constraints of a live theater production.