In memoriam Misha Mengelberg

On March 3, 2017, one of STEIM’s former directors Misha Mengelberg passed away.
Most of the people working at STEIM today have not been working with him, except for Nico Bes, who has been working here more than fourty years.
Nico wants to share some memories with us:

I met Misha for the first time at STEIM after I was asked to be STEIM’s engineer to set up and run the studio at Prinseneiland.
His extraordinary personality impressed me immediately.
I was used to hierarchy, since my background was the electronic industry, but now I had to deal with an artist behaving like an anarchist. Misha showed me how he followed his personal intuition and conviction, rather than following the demands of other people. Very informative to me.

From 1972 till the end of the ‘70s Misha was STEIM’s director.
And of course he did the job his way, resisting and opposing opinions and intentions of the other STEIMers. So I wasn’t surprised when he told me that he ‘wanted to run STEIM from his bed’.

Also I remember the time Misha was teaching a course at STEIM around 1974 for first-year conservatory students. There were about 20 students, interested in electro-instrumental music.

Misha didn’t say anything.

Students got completely bored – the next week there were only four left.
Then Misha said: ‘now we can start’.

His opposing approach however, in general, but also towards the commonly used techniques and protocols in electro-acoustic music, resulted in a number of amazing installations, objects and performances.

His work inspired many others, like MIchel Waisvisz, who took over from Misha around 1980, when my fellow engineers and the STEIM board were thinking that STEIM was in danger.

I myself enjoyed Misha’s attitude and policy, found it very inspiring.
Misha will stay in the mind of many of us.

Nico Bes
Amsterdam, March 4, 2017

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