Diabelli 200 Explorer is the interactive website accompanying Anthony Brandt’s February 24-25 premiere of Diabelli 200, commissioned by Performing Arts Houston for their New/Now performance series. This virtual component explores the historic and neuroscience inspiration behind this new work, which was developed in collaboration with University of Houston neuroscientist Dr. Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal.
In 1819, composer and publisher Anton Diabelli invited several dozen Austrian composers to submit a variation on a theme he’d written. Fifty composers sent in a single variation; Beethoven wrote thirty-three, which were published in 1823. How Beethoven’s approach differs from that of his contemporaries is very revealing about the creative process—it is like a sonic brain scan of imagination at work.
Diabelli 200 revisits Diabelli’s theme two hundred years later. In Musiqa’s performance, the conductor and pianist wore portable EEG caps that monitored their brain activity as they rehearsed and performed. Data from the caps was incorporated into animated projections designed by composer Badie Khalegian.
Diabelli 200 Explorer allows viewers to explore the history and science behind this new work. You will learn about Diabelli’s original call for variations; the brain processes involved in creativity and the EEG data that will be captured by neuroscientist Dr. Contreras-Vidal during this project; and the video projections incorporating that EEG data being created by Badie Khalegian, as well as a discussion of the new piece.