The Oeldorf Group was founded in 1972 or 1973 and remained active until about 1978 or 1979. Live-electronic music was a particular emphasis, though they also performed all kinds of new and avant-garde music, as well as traditional repertory (Custodis 2004, 189; Montague 1991, 197). In fact, contrast of old and new music was an essential feature of the Oeldorf Group’s concerts (Becker 1976, 117).
The group took its name from the village of Oeldorf (a part of the municipality of Kürten, 40 kilometers east of Cologne and seven kilometers from the central village of Kürten), where they lived and worked in a rented farmhouse (Maiguashca 2007). They had their own studio for electronic music and studio productions, and in the barn adjacent to the house they were able to present concerts for audiences up to about 300 people, although they also performed in various other places. They also published their own music. The core members were Peter Eötvös (at that time best known as a composer) who performed electronics and keyboards, the violinist/violist and composer Joachim Krist, electronics specialist and composer Mesías Maiguashca, who also played keyboards, and Maiguashca's wife, the cellist Gaby Schumacher. They were closely associated with the Cologne-based Feedback Studio, consisting of David C. Johnson, Johannes Fritsch, and Rolf Gehlhaar (Montague 1991, 197; Kurtz 1992, 200).
Through their long-standing contact with the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, the Oeldorf Group was able to receive commissions for compositions, invitations to perform in the Musik der Zeit concert series, as well as having many of their summer concerts recorded for the late-night broadcasts of WDR3 (Custodis 2004, 189–90). One example was Oeldorf 8 by Mesías Maiguashca, a two-year retrospective portrait of the Oeldorf Group commissioned by the WDR. It consists of a series of eight short pieces for four instrumentalists (clarinet, violin, cello, electric organ/synthesizer) and tape, which may be played either simultaneously or continuously without a break. The score is dedicated to Maiguashca's three Oeldorf colleagues who, together with the composer, premiered the composition at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse in 1974 (Maiguashca n.d.; Zink 2010).
The Oeldorf Summer-night Concerts began as no more than private country musical soirees for a small circle of composers, but quickly grew to become a byword in the Cologne music scene. The 1973 summer season consisted of three concerts, the last of which took place on 23 June and consisted entirely of premieres of new compositions: David C. Johnson's Progranca—ein Oeldœuvre, Ulrich Stranz's Déja-vue, Silvio Fortić's Drei Lieder aus dem unvollendeten und unvollendbaren Zyklus 'la merde de siècle', and Emmanuel Nunes's The Blending Season (Becker-Carsten 1973).
In 1978 the group joined with the British Hydra Ensemble to inaugurate the newly built hall of the London Goethe Institute in a week of concerts and seminars organised by Rolf Gehlhaar (Matossian 1979, 8).
Live electronics were an important aspect of the Oeldorf performances, as illustrated by the Portuguese composer Emanuel Nuñes's 73-Oeldorf-75, for two electric organs and electronics, which was written for the group (Zink 2010).
According to Maiguashca,
Stockhausen's group was different from both ours and Feedback because it was fully professional. His group was based at Westdeutsche Rundfunk and had the advantage of having "state of the art" professional equipment and setups. No expense was spared. A Stockhausen concert involved sometimes truck loads of WDR equipment, and a brace of technicians. We were much more modest. Our equipment was semi-professional: we carried our own loudspeakers and did all the setups ourselves. (Montague 1991, 198)
In addition to the core members, guest artists also frequently appeared. In the 1973 summer series, Australian dancer Philippa Cullen (who had come to Germany to work with Karlheinz Stockhausen, who lived nearby) performed with a Theremin connected to a synthesizer, and the Slovenian violinist Miha Pogačnik played Bach’s partitas for solo violin (Jones 2004, 70; Kurtz 1992, 200). Clarinetists Walter Seyfarth, David Smyers, Suzanne Stephens, and Beate Zelinsky appeared at various times, and Stockhausen performed in his own composition Herbstmusik, which was written for the group in 1974 (Zink 2010; Kurtz 1992, 200). In 1976, the Hungarian violinist János Négyesy performed the violin sonatas by Charles Ives (Becker 1976, 118).
- Becker-Carsten, Wolfgang. 1973. "Moderne Sommernachtsmusik auf dem Heuboden". Melos 40, no. 5 (September–October): 307–308.
- Becker, Wolfgang. 1976. "Da Colonia", translated by Oddo Piero Bertini. Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana 10, no. 1:116–18.
- Custodis, Michael. 2004. Die soziale Isolation der neuen Musik: Zum Kölner Musikleben nach 1945. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 978-3-515-08375-1.
- Griffiths, Paul. 1974. "Festivals: La Rochelle". Musical Times 115, No. 1579 (September): 777–78.
- Jones, Stephen. 2004. "Philippa Cullen: Dancing the Music". Leonardo Music Journal 14 (Composers Inside Electronics: Music After David Tudor): 64–73.
- Jungheinrich, Hans-Klaus. 2005. "Eötvös und Stockhausen". In Identitäten: Der Komponist und Dirigent Peter Eötvös: Symposion, 19. September 2004, Alte Oper Frankfurt am Main, edited by Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich, 48–56. Edition Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. Mainz: Schott Musik International. ISBN 978-3-7957-0534-3.
- Kapko-Foretić, Zdenka. 1980. "Kölnska škola avangarde". Zvuk: Jugoslavenska muzička revija, 1980 no. 2:50–55.
- Kurtz, Michael. 1992. Stockhausen: A Biography, translated by Richard Toop. London and Boston: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-14323-7 (cloth) ISBN 0-571-17146-X (pbk).
- Maiguashca, Mesías. n.d. "Werke: 09/1972–74: Öldorf 8, fur Violine, Klarinette, Cello, Orgel, Synthesizer und Tonband". www.maiguashca.de (Accessed 8 January 2014).
- Maiguashca, Mesías. 2007. "Kuerten, 22.12.2007". www.maiguashca.de (Accessed 8 January 2014).
- Matossian, Nouritza. 1979. "Goethe Institute’s New Season". Music and Musicians[full citation needed](October): 8–9.
- Montague, Stephen. 1991. "Mesías Maiguashca". Contemporary Music Review 6, no. 1:197–203.
- Zink, Johannes (moderator). 2010. "Oeldorf oder der elektronische Bauernhof". WDR 3 open: Studio elektronische Musik WDR3 (15 September, 23:05–0:00). Elektroakustische Musik aus dem WDR-Studio (1971–1975) von Mesías Maiguashca, Péter Eötvös, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Emmanuel Nuñes.