Sympathy (music)

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Sympathy (Greek συμπάθεια (sympatheia), from σύν (syn) "together" and πάθος (pathos) "passion", in this case an affection) is a short piece of instrumental, music, a type of bagatelle, that at the same time is a homage, a requiem for a special person.

Peter Adrian Wulff and Natias Neutert, performing a 'sympathy' in 1988


The earliest use of the name "sympathy" for instrumental musical work was by the German performer, poet, musician and thinker Natias Neutert. He introduced the word sympathy into the terminology of experimental music and performance art with his musical performance, titled Sympathy for Piano and Pump.[1][2]

Sympathy Chord written by Natias Neutert, Faksimile 1987


The premiere of Natias Neutert’s concerto within the frame of Berlin as Cultural City of Europe 1988 happened in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. It was a „kind of requiem for the great teacher Joseph Beuys whose use of a pneumatic pump as a sculptural object has inspired Neutert to convert it for this concerto into an unusual musical instrument.“ [3]

By virtue of his playing, pianist Adrian Wulff produces spacious arcs of sounds, and Neutert, the composer, performer and flute player himself, charms the finest sounds out oft the unusual ‚magic flute.’[4]


The fact that the term sympathy imbedded itself into the terminology of experimental music and performance art as a name of such music piece, not least the young Italo-German film composer Pablo Paolo Kilian occupies, his short piece Time Travel - Back and Forth exactly the same and in this sense.


  1. ^ PARKETT No 15, Art Magazine, february Zürich 1988, p. 189.
  2. ^ Cf. Laura von Spreckelsen: Grenzübertritte — zu den Aktivitäten von Natias Neutert in Berlin (Border Crossings — the activities of Natias Neutert in Berlin) In: NEW ART IN EUROPE No. 22, ’88.
  3. ^ Berlin – Kulturstadt Europas 1988/Cultural City of Europe 1988/Ville Européenne de la Culture 1988, Verlag Ullstein, Frankfurt/Main – Berlin 1988, p. 105.
  4. ^ Cf Klaus Thomsen: Sympathy for Piano and pump — Neutert in Berlin, Hamburg, Heidelberg et al. In: Kunst Köln Art Cologne, Issue 4/’88.

External links[edit]

  • Manfred Sack: Musikalische Performance — Piano und Pumpe [1] DIE ZEIT