Sonata Erotica -
Erwin Schulhoff

Schulhoff's enthusiasm for the Dada movement was aroused by a Dada Soirée in Berlin on 24 May 1919. It inspired him to write a number of Dadaist compositions, among them Sonata Erotica. For many years there were grounds for scholars to doubt whether this piece really existed. No music was to be found, and there was no mention of it in the list of works published by the Schulhoff's biographer Josef Bek. The composer himself only mentioned it once, in an article for the Berlin periodical Dada in early 1920. Werner Herbers, the artistic director of the Ebony Band, undertook intensive research in Prague in the early 1990s, and discovered that musicologist Jaromír Paclt possessed copies of the manuscripts of the work.

It seems unlikely that the piece was ever performed in the composer's day. The (probable) world premiere of the Sonata erotica was given by Dutch actress Loes Luca at a concert by the Ebony Band in 1993 in Amsterdam. Performance of the piece, written for a non-existent instrument called the "Solo-Muttertrompete" (solo-mothertrumpet) and suitable, according to Schulhoff, "for men only," requires a certain daring and lack of inhibition. Not least at the end, where the prescribed sanitary activities may present a particular challenge to the performer. If this is so, the solution we would suggest is that the performer withdraws behind a screen or o stage to pour water into a zinc bucket, with or without amplification. A performance by Loes Luca may be admired on YouTube.

Werner Herbers