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OBITUARIES / Passings / Mauricio Kagel

Argentine-born music composer

September 19, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Mauricio Kagel, 76, an Argentine-born composer whose experimental body of work also ranged into theater, has died in Cologne, Germany, following a long illness, the C.F. Peters musical publishing house said Thursday.

Kagel was born in Buenos Aires on Dec. 24, 1931, into a Jewish family of German-Russian origin.

A self-taught composer who learned to play instruments including the piano, organ and cello, he studied literature and philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires and at age 18 became an advisor to an avant-garde group, Agrupacion Nueva Musica.

In 1955, he rose to become a director at the Argentine capital's Teatro Colon. Two years later, he went on a student grant to Germany, where he settled, working in chamber and electronic music. His musical theater piece "Sur Scene" -- first performed in 1960 -- established a genre of "instrumental theater" that became a prominent part of his work.

Kagel was known for a humorous approach to art, with works such as "Fantasie fuer Orgel and Obligati," which included a toilet flush as an instrument.

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