ward de jonghe

Drei Erzählungen aus Franz Kafkas ‘Betrachtung’ – for voice and ensemble

duration: ca 8’

instrumentation: voice, fl/picc, cl/ bcl, vn, vc, pno

written in 2018 and slightly revised in 2019

first performance:  2018-12-18 by Esther-Elisabeth Rispens, Kevin Hendrickx, Mar Sala Romagosa, Freya Bovijn, Violetta Haraszti, Clara Vanderschueren and Bert De Rycke

view score

programme note: 

These songs are inspired by two modernist works from 1912: Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Franz Kafka’s short story collection Betrachtung (Contemplation). The first-person character is surrounded by no one coming, no one helping, no one pretty, simply by “no ones.” The desperate figure wants to escape by taking a trip to the mountains, or by flying above the trembling ground on a running horse. Who does not know this feeling? For we, Kafka writes, seem to be able to slip away like tree trunks on ice. Perhaps it turns out those roots aren’t as solidly stuck in the wintery earth after all…

Kafka’s unabridged text dictated the rhythmic pulse and overall form. The music is clearly a Schoenberg pastiche and contains some explicit references to his Op. 21, although no such typical canon techniques were used. For me personally, it is an important work (as an opus 1) because all the harmonies and melodic motifs were derived from a single (complex) chord. Indeed, ever since, many compositions have departed from a similar harmonic principle, and references to expressionism occasionally still pop up.