feedback studio verlag

1971–2010, Cologne

© Herrmann und Clärchen Baus

In 1970, composers Johannes Fritsch, Rolf Gehlhaar and David Johnson founded the Feedback Studio. One year later, Fritsch and Gehlhaar established the Feedback Studio Verlag, a small publishing house that Fritsch mainly managed on his own from 1975 to 2010. After Fritsch’s death in 2010, the Feedback Studio and publishing house were dissolved. Since then, the Feedback Papers still in stock have been managed by edition johannes fritsch (for orders please email us). Feedback Studio CDs can be purchased from Cybele Records ( Historic documents, such as handwritten scores, tapes of ‘Hinterhaus’ concerts, correspondences, historic studio equipment, etc. can be accessed in the Johannes-Fritsch-archive of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

History and Concept

David Johnson, Johannes Fritsch and Rolf Gehlhaar 1972

David Johnson, Johannes Fritsch and Rolf Gehlhaar, 1972

Shortly after the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, three composers and collaborators of Karlheinz Stockhausen – Johannes Fritsch, Rolf Gehlhaar and David Johnson – founded the Feedback Studio in Cologne. A year later, in 1971, the Feedback Studio Verlag was established: the very first composer-owned and run publishing house in Germany. The studio and publishing house were in a rear building in the Belgium Quarter, in which Fritsch had set up a private studio in the attic in 1967.

The Backhouse

The Backhouse / das Hinterhaus

The backhouse on Genterstraße 23 (© Lena Fritsch)

One year later, artist Wolf Vostell moved his studio into the backhouse and founded, together with Mauricio Kagel, Alfred Feussner, Friedrich W. Heubach and Gabor Altorjay, the LABOR e.V. for interdisciplinary research of acoustic and visual events. This association would soon made history as KOMBINAT. Later, Mauricio Kagel filled a room in the second floor with his collection of musical instruments, and art collector Wolfgang Hahn stored works of art in the basement, such as Daniel Spoerri’s Hahns Abendmahl. In the 1980s, the theatre group Theaterpädagogisches Zentrum (TPZ, today LATIBUL) moved in; today, they use all rooms of the rear building.

Alternative Hub for Music

Both the Feedback Studio and Feedback Studio Verlag did not operate as a commercial business but rather as an artistic cooperative and alternative hub for music.

feedback studio verlag

The publishing house represented up to 300 compositions by twenty composers. Its program covered electronic and live electronic works, computer music, pieces for large orchestras, and chamber music by Klarenz Barlow, Michael von Biel, Peter Eötvös, Silvio Foretic, Johannes Fritsch, Rolf Gehlhaar, David Johnson, Siegfried Koepf, Joachim Krist, Mesias Maiguashca, Michael Manion, John McGuire, Herbert A. Mitschke, Masahiro Miwa, Harald Muenz, Manfred Niehaus, Michael Ranta, Makoto Shinohara, Volker Staub, Caspar Johannes Walter and others.

Intercultural Exchange: Hinterhausmusik Concerts and World Music Conferences

Richard Bargel during a Hinterhausmusik performance, 1972

Richard Bargel during a Hinterhausmusik performance, 1972

In addition to the studio and office room of the publishing house, the Feedback Studio floor featured a small room for events, in which the legendary ‘Hinterhausmusiken’ (‘backhouse music’) concerts took place. Starting in 1971, they presented young composers of the Colognian and international Avantgarde, as well as traditional music from other cultures, such as Africa, China, Japan, India, Thailand and Mexico. The Hinterhausmusik events provided room for intercultural exchange; many lectures, workshops and concerts were realised in cooperation with Peter Ausländer or the WDR (Western German Broadcasting) or recorded by them. Moreover, four WELTMUSIK Conferences on world music (in 1979, 1982, 1984 and 1986), organised in cooperation with the AG Musik in Ostwestfalen-Lippe, explored non-European music as well as forgotten traditional European folk music in classes, workshops, lectures and concerts. The conference lectures have been published as special editions of the Feedback Papers series.

Feedback Papers


The Feedback Papers, 46 booklets and books, not only document the history of the Feedback Studio but also present alternative viewpoints on the history of New Music through descriptions, analysis and essays. They include contributions by Klarenz Barlow, Michael von Biel, Cornelius Cardew, Johannes Fritsch, David Johnson, Siegfried Koepf, Helmut Lachenmann, John McGuire, Oxana Omelchuk, Robert HP Platz, Volker Staub, Kevin Volans, Wolf Vostell, Walter Zimmermann and many more.

All Feedback Papers are available in the digital database of RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale):

Feedback CDs

Johannes Fritsch in the studio

Johannes Fritsch in the studio, 1970s (© Alfred Koch)

The Feedback CD series features works by Fritsch as well as Klarenz Barlow, Michael von Biel, Peter Eötvös, Silvio Foretic, Rolf Gehlhaar, David Johnson, Siegfried Koepf, Mesias Maiguashca, Harald Muenz, John McGuire and others.

Rolf Gehlhard and wife Nouritza

Rolf Gehlhaar and his wife Nouritza in the studio, 1970s