Franz Kamin (1941-2010)

Franz Kamin was a prolific composer whose musical works explore structural principals derived from topology, prosody, General Systems Theory, and esoteric/meditational processes in unusual combinations of genre and technique: conventional instruments and children’s toys; sound poetry and puppet theater; choreography and speaking chorus; systematic chance operations and programmed improvisation; performance scribbling and the live reading of narrative texts. Born in Milwaukee, Kamin studied composition at the University of Oklahoma with Spencer Norton and at Indiana University with Roque Cordero where he also studied piano with Alfonso Montecino. While at IU, Kamin, together with fellow composer James Brody organized FIASCO, an experimental collective which meet weekly in Bloomington from 1966 to 1972. Among his compositions from this period was The Concert of Doors, a synaesthetic work in which a number of doors, each of vastly differing design, some found, some constructed, ranging from comical to mysterious, were set on a path through a woods to be traversed by the audience-participants. Kamin moved to New York in the 1970s and collaborated with cellist Charlotte Moorman, a fixture in the downtown avant-garde scene at that time. He eventually settled in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was killed in a car crash in Roseville, Minnesota when a car driven by James Brody (who also died) left the road, jumped a curb, and hit a tree. Their names were released on April 12, 2010, by the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office.Works by Kamin available from Station Hill Press include Ann Margaret Loves You and other psychotopological diversions, Scribble DeathEGZ Book of Frogs, and a record, Behavioral Drift II/Rugumool.

Jackson Mac Low said of him: “”Franz Kamin is a uniquely multidimensional artist and thinker… He playfully and seriously incorporates in much of his work concepts and procedures derived from such fields as topology and linguistics. But withal he’s a deeply emotional, romantic artist, much of whose work arises from his personal relationships. There’s no one like him.”

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5 Responses

  1. andrew bolotowsky says:

    we will all miss the norkin king.”I know it sounds like a mess,but it’s my mess and it has to sound like my mess.”The greatest”Mr. WRONG” I ever met!

  2. debby florence says:

    I was in some of his performances as a young person and he both vexed and inspired me very much. Such a lasting influence upon me. I think when I was about 20 I wrote a poem about him playing piano (Rachmaninoff) in those days. Sad to hear the news.

  3. Richie says:

    I got to know Franz pretty well over the years. Andrew, he used to refer to you and some of the wisdom he gleaned from your mother on occaision. In fact it is because of him that I have one of your dad’s prints that had hung in my office for years.

    The only time I really saw Franz shaken up over a death is A) If there was some injustice involved, or B) when his his colleague Jackson Maclow died a few years back. It was at that time he shared with me that the reason he didn’t attend funerals was because he believed that the people who died really didn’t care if you attended their funeral. In fact, he taught me that to honor someone who has passed, rather than wasting time indulging in sadness, that it is better to think of the characteristics one really admired or liked about the deceased and make them your own. As was typical with Franz, he was probably right but I still am sad…

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