Andreas Eisenschneider

Andreas Eisenschneider

was born in Lüneburg in 1962, but grew up in Celle. Music was important to him from an early age. His parents had a good hi-fi system; his mother in particular listened to a range of music - soul, jazz and rock 'n' roll, not just pop - and he was exposed to a broad spectrum of styles.

At the Schlosstheater in Celle he worked as an extra for various theatrical productions and was offered his first minor roles. One evening the chief sound engineer was taken ill and he was asked to step in. During the next few years he trained as a sound technician. Andreas Eisenschneider had found his metier; he had always been interested in the technical aspect of music. He remained in Celle till 1988, then moved and began working for the annual Ruhrfestspiele, continuing with this till 1992. In 1990, after a brief intermission in Heilbronn, he became sound engineer at the Aalto Musiktheater in Essen, later at the Grillo Theater. Of the directors he worked with, Hansgünter Heyme and Jürgen Bosse had the greatest influence on him. It was a time of change; new ideas were being tested in each production and the experimentation extended to the use of music. Eisenschneider soon won the directors' trust and was able to make suggestions, to introduce his own ideas. He became seen as more than just a technician; a creative individual capable of understanding and contributing to a production. It was then that he first met the composer Alfons Nowacki, who became a mentor to him, adopting him as a protégé. Nowacki took him to productions in various respected theatres throughout Germany and the world. He often completed draft compositions for Nowacki, adding and deleting elements. They developed a relationship of trust and sometimes Nowacki left him to see projects through to completion on his own. Other significant encounters during this period included the musicians Jun Miyake and Hans Reichel.

In 1995 Andreas Eisenschneider applied to work for the Tanztheater Wuppertal. After years of working in the theatre he was ready for this interaction with dance. He was ideally suited to work there; he possessed a broad knowledge of music and the skills of a sound technician. His first production at the Tanztheater Wuppertal was Nur Du (Only You), and he was amazed how open Pina Bausch was to his new, very different suggestions for music. He also became acquainted with her very particular working methods. Shortly before the dress rehearsal she would restructure the entire piece. This meant that every piece of music, still on tape at the time, had to be re-edited. Pina Bausch worked with great precision and caution. She only took decisions once she was very sure what she was doing. This required windows of time to be kept free and demanded the readiness to change things at any moment, often the last minute. The dances and scenes were created slowly. Sometimes there was only a key movement or a small phrase at the beginning, which gradually developed into a dance. The music continually had to be adapted or substituted according to these developments. To do this, Eisenschneider and Matthias Burkert, jointly responsible for music at the Tanztheater Wuppertal, required an extensive archive, and the ability to empathise with Pina Bausch's taste and the requirements of each scene. 'The music,' she once said to Eisenschneider, 'is the secret.' It creates a scenic bracket, and intensifies the emotional content of each scene. Otherwise there are few restrictions to limit the choice; from jazz, soul, world music through classical to heavy metal - anything is possible. A decision is only made when the music has been tried with a dance or action. Many attempts are necessary.

Over time the archive expanded. While the company once sifted through around 300 pieces of music in the course of the rehearsal process, later it grew to twice as many. Archiving and editing became easier with the advent of digitalisation. It was above all the many co-productions throughout the world which caused the repertoire of music to grow. The company was opening up to and experimenting with ever more genres. This required great care. They had to avoid over-using a piece of music before the premiere - music was often used for the first time at the dress rehearsal - and sometimes particular pieces only made sense in the cultural environment of a particular country, creating a wholly different effect elsewhere. Hopes for a musical solution were continually dashed for this reason, and the search had to continue till a universal solution was found. The music also had to fulfil a double role; it had to be strong and memorable, and at the same time remain subservient. Some pieces failed to pass muster because they dominated events on stage. Pina Bausch handled this complex working process with a readiness to take risks and a great team spirit. Only through extensive musical research and by trusting in the sensitivity of her colleagues could she be certain of finding solutions which would stand the test of time.

Andreas Eisenschneider currently works together with Matthias Burkert as joint musical director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal in a co-operative, collaborative working relationship.

Translated by Steph Morris