Márcio Steuernagel

10 October 2020

ARTikulationen 2020


Senses of musical imperfections in “The Great in-Betweenness” for solo flute

  • Imperfection
  • Composition
  • Performance Practice
  • Aesthetics
  • Artistic Research

with Eric Lamb (Flute)

The question of “what is musical imperfection” or “what can musical imperfection be” is an elusive one. As a morphologically negative word, the meaning of “imperfection” shifts according to the different possible connotations of “perfection”, which also change according to usage and context. Taken as a determinate concept, “perfection” has lost the centrality it once held in aesthetics and philosophy of music, especially in 18th Century discourse. But a word operates in many layers, not all of them dependent on conceptualization. In everyday music making, perfectionist reminiscences continue to operate – and musical imperfections, to emerge and act.

The task of advancing comprehension of imperfection in music as a fundamental compositional and performative dimension, therefore, is a task especially suited for Artistic Research: these senses are best pursued, discerned and elucidated in the process of music making. Accordingly, in this concert-lecture, I explore a few selected strong senses of musical imperfection in a new research composition for flute. In doing so, I advance comprehension of these senses by looking at examples from the creative process, including both composition and documented working sessions with the performer. This case study sheds light on the bridge that bypasses the (arguably artificial) gap between theory and practice – between conceptual reflexion and artistic creation. The centrality of artistic practice is further highlighted by including the première of the full cycle “The Great in-Betweenness: six études and three melodies for solo flute”, performed by Eric Lamb.


Márcio Steuernagel is a Brazilian conductor, composer and artistic researcher. Steuernagel is Master in Music by the Federal University of Paraná, main conductor of the Federal University of Paraná Philharmonic Orchestra; Conducting and Composing Professor at the School of Music and Fine Arts of the State University of Paraná, conductor of the Ensemble Móbile, and a founding member of the Ensemble entreCompositores, with whom he directed the Music Today Biennale (2011 – 2017). He currently lives in Vienna, Austria, as a Doctoral Candidate at the Doctoral School for Artistic Research of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, researching “imperfection in music as a fundamental compositional and performative dimension.”

Steuernagel studied conduction with Osvaldo Ferreira, and Alpaslan Ertüngealp; and composition with Maurício Dottori, Stefano Gervasoni and, currently, Germán Toro-Pérez. His compositions have been performed by groups such as the Platypus Ensemble (Vienna), Nova Camerata and Ensemble Móbile (Brazil), and orchestras such as Orquestra Sinfônica do Paraná, Camerata Antiqua de Curitiba, and Orquestra Filarmônica da Universidade Federal do Paraná. He has conducted orchestras such as Orquestra Sinfônica do Paraná (where he was assistant conductor from 2011 to 2013), Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais, Orquestra Sinfônica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro, Szolnok Symphony Orchestra, Opera de Baugé, Çukurova Devlet Senfoni Orkestrasi, and Orquestra de Câmara da Cidade de Curitiba. Ahead of orchestras as well as Brazilian and European ensembles (Ensemble Platypus), Steuernagel specializes in new music, and has directed many premières, including the Brazilian première of György Ligeti’s Ramifications (2015), and the American première of Salvatore Sciarrino’s L’ideale lucente e le pagine rubate (2017).