Poet and Dada artist. Pioneer in the development of sound poetry.
Hugo Ball Performing at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, 1916
See Hugo at 2:25
- Born 1886 in Pirmasens, Hugo Ball studied German literature, philosophy, and history at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg (1906-1907). In 1910, he moved to Berlin in order to become an actor and collaborated with Max Reinhardt and worked as a director and stage manager for various theater companies in Berlin, Plauen, and Munich. He also started writing, contributing to the expressionist journals Die Neue Kunst and Die Aktion, both of which, in style and in content, anticipated the format of later Dada journals.
- Soon after the outbreak of World Wat I he and Emmy Hennings, a cabaret singer whom he had met in Munich and whom he would marry in 1920, emigrated to Zurich, Switzerland. In February 1916 he founded the 'Cabaret Voltaire' in the Spiegelgasse. There he met with Hans Arp, Marcel Janco, Tristan Tzara, and later Richard Huelsenbeck and Walter Serner.
- In July 1916 Ball left the Dada circle in Zurich in order to recuperate in the Swiss countryside. He returned in January 1917 to help organize Galerie Dada, an exhibition space that opened in March 1917. Events at the Galerie included lectures, performances, dances, weekend soirées, and tours of the exhibitions. Although Ball supported the educative goals of the Galerie, he was at odds with Tzara over Tzara's ambition to make Dada into an international movement with a systematic doctrine. He left Zurich in May 1917 and did not again actively participate in Dada activities.
- Hugo Ball died in Sant' Abbondio, Switzerland, 14 September 1927.
- -Above text source is dada-companion.com, link here.
Below is an excerpt from The Buried Face of an Age: Hugo Ball's Flight Out of Time (1916), Kevin Courrier, Critics At Large, 2011. Link here to read the entire discussion.
"The In the pop world, you could hear Ball in 1973, in the electonica music played by the British band Cabaret Voltaire, named after the club where it all began. You could hear him literally, of course, in the Talking Heads' song "I Zimbra" from their 1979 album Fear of Music, where they took Ball's cabaret poem and set it to an African rhythm. A few years later, in 1981, you could also hear Ball more figuratively in Laurie Anderson's "O Superman (For Massenet)." In specific terms, Anderson constructed her song as a cover of the aria "Ô Souverain, ô juge, ô père" (O Sovereign, O Judge, O Father) from Jules Massenet's 1885 opera Le Cid. But the concept of creating a language unheard came directly from Ball. Using an electronic voice decoder, Anderson overlays a phonetic loop of her repeating the spoken syllable "Ha" with an Eventide Harmonizer, while she reads her text through a vocoder. Inspired by the Tao Te Ching, Anderson says, "Cause when love is gone, there's always justice/And when justice is gone, there is always force/And when force is gone, there's always Mom." Or Dada."