Philosophical Music Theatre

Vasko Atanasovski – direction and music

dr. Magdalena Germek – text and interpretation


ARTHANATOS is a new form of philosophical musical theatre that directly connects theatre, music and philosophy. In ARTHANATOS, however, music meets with philosophy and theatre in the exploration of the most obscure and sublime subject of humanity – death. ARTHANATOS wants to connect the phenomena of art (art) and death (thanatos), shape them with philosophical theories and concepts, and at the same time express them through art. It is a completely new approach, which constantly builds the specificity of its methodology in an experimental search for ways to mutually enrich and fulfil the philosophical concept, stage performance and musical form. For this purpose, a special form of artistic-philosophical mono-dialogue will be staged, which will take over the methodological logic of the ancient rhetorical figure “prosopopoeia”, which will be directly transferred from rhetoric to music, and will be supplemented with the technique of philosophical contemporary storytelling.).


Death is an unanswered question for humanity. We live in a time that today, due to environmental and climate crises, social unrest, migration, the current Russian-Ukrainian and Israeli-Palestinian wars, as well as economic, social and cultural uncertainty, is often characterized as apocalyptic and affected by the theme of death and life. But how are we actually dealing with the phenomenon of death? As a society, we seem to have fallen into a paradox. Death was once considered a question to which mankind had no answer and was widely understood as a life-phenomenon – an anti-phenomenon – beyond human experience and unresponsive to individual human destinies. The medieval motif of the Danse Macabre depicts the figure of Death, deaf to the plea of ​​the living, allowing him to occupy a status of complete equality: before death we are all equal. Today, however, we have reached perhaps the most radical point, as we ourselves have become deaf to death and are no longer moved by the masses of the dead. Does this “deafness to death” also affect our social deafness to justice, solidarity, equality? Have we perhaps forgotten another medieval tradition, memento mori, remember to die? Perhaps we are forgetting that we are dying en masse because we have become deaf to the value of life itself?

The musical-philosophical stage event ARTHANATOS, however, comes from another provocative banner: as an anti-phenomenon that is excluded from the sphere of knowledge, death is nevertheless a phenomenon that is deeply experienced within the human experience. Both death and life are among the oldest thematic inspirations of artistic and philosophical thought throughout history, regardless of cultural, religious, ethnic, and sociodemographic characteristics. Music represents one of the deepest ways in which humanity tries to communicate with death, that transcendent and most intimately human thing. ARTHANATOS offers a musical stage performance that simultaneously combines philosophical thought, musical-theatre expression and visual projections of an anatomical dead body in a spectacular and intimate, sensational and emotional, ritual and sublime way. It tells about the symbolic motifs of death – memento mori, vanitas, Danse Macabre – which played a central role in the musical and philosophical search for the reality of the divine, which inspired generations of researchers, philosophers and artists. The symbiotic dramaturgy of philosophical storytelling and author’s music promises an extremely sublime artistic-philosophical event that will enable the general public to experience the most intriguing human phenomenon and anti-phenomenon: art and death.


MUSIC is included in Arthanatos as original composed recorded music as well as live music performed by the “Arthanatos Ensemble”. The recorded piece of music is in some places interact with the musicians on stage and serves as a basis that cooperates with live interventions, while in some places it creates atmosphere and content highlights. Both recorded music and live musicians are taking the core of philosophical thoughts and translate them into modern musical language. Using the technique of prosopopoeia, a rhapsody is created on the theme of death and life; vanitas, memento mori, phoenix and Danse Macabre. The interaction between music and philosophical narrative follows the instructions of a philosophical-musical score in which the entire work of art is written, which partly uses theatrical, scenic and performative techniques to achieve its goals. Composer Vasko Atanasovski, who is relying on selected philosophical texts to create music, which serves as some types of libretti, simultaneously uses modern processes of creating polyphonic interludes, dystopian harmonies, various improvisational techniques and electronic noises and effects.


Philosopher dr. Magdalena Germek develops philosophical storytelling, which tells a story about artistic expression and the philosophical perception of the concept of death in a non-academic, sublime and accessible way for a wider audience. In doing so, the philosopher places herself in carefully selected segments of recorded original musical works. The goal is to find the perfect scene of philosophical thought and the subtle moment when philosophical storytelling can be placed in a piece of music. Indicators that helps her with this are dynamic ranges, pauses, and rhythms, as well as the sheet music, which composer Vasko Atanasovski guides her through.


In carefully selected segments of the event, projections of anatomical-artistic depictions of the dead body from the 16th and 17th centuries are shown on stage. Reproductions of renaissance anatomical illustrations, which today are understood as a top work of artistic and cultural-scientific heritage, are used, as well as reproductions of the dead body of so-called artist-anatomists (Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raffael da Urbino, etc.).