According to ancient philosophers, music and architecture came from the same source as astronomy.
It had to do with the magic of numbers, the relationships between them, and proportions and harmonies. They were measurable in arithmetic and could be represented as geometry.
The "harmonia mundi" of the cosmos was taken for granted, and was audible as the music of the spheres – we need think only of Schiller’s line in the finale of Beethoven’s 9th symphony: "Brothers, above the panoply of the stars, a loving Father must dwell."
The Pythagoreans used their theory of proportions to define the dimensions and proportions of the temple at Bassae down to the smallest detail.
Raphael’s fresco of The School of Athens in the Stanze at the Vatican introduces the coded puzzles of the Neo-Pythagorean scholars of the Renaissance.
Proportions likewise feature in Bach’s compositions, from the overall architecture down to the compositional detail. The music of contemporary composer György Ligeti is simultaneously the work of a mathematician.
Architecture has always made it its business to be well-proportioned, whether on the basis of the golden section or Le Corbusier’s Modulor.
These and similar ideas were behind Musitektur, a musical drawing room for architects that we have been putting on for many years in word and sound, as both entertainment and education for our staff and friends.
The series has now been going for more than 20 years. Musitektur originated at the Chair of Design, at the RWTH Aachen’s Faculty of Architecture. The aim is to bring together architects and musicians for the benefit of students, because both disciplines deal with composition.
The concerts – there have been over 150 – now take place in our offices. The musicians are young, the way most of our staff are young. They are enthusiastic instrumentalists, composers and interpreters.
The particular pleasure we get from it is in the stimulating encounter with young participants, many of whom are at the beginning of promising careers.
Tradition and modernism are two sides of the same coin – the art of composing – in music as in architecture.