York Höller (1944)

Zwiegestalt (2007)

for string quartet and piano

  • General information
    • Composition date: 2007
    • Duration: 25 mn
    • Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Detailed formation
  • 1 piano, 1 violin, 1 second violin, 1 viola, 1 cello

Premiere information

  • Date: 12 June 2008

    Essen, Philharmonie, Alfried Krupp Saal


    Anthony Spiri, piano, Minguet Quartett

Table of contents

  1. Energico e deciso
  2. Andante triste
  3. Capriccioso
  4. Tranquillo misterioso e dolce
  5. Agitato

Program note

    <p>According to an unwritten rule, artists are advised to keep art and the private sphere apart. If Alban Berg had followed this rule throughout, he would never have written his ‘Lyrical Suite’. Not only did he interlock the notes of his name’s letters with that of his secret lover, Hanna Fuchs, but the six movements of the work, as has been discovered in exegetic studies, reflect personal traits of the composer, reproduce his asthmatic panting in music and, by incorporating a Tristan quotation, carry a distinct allusion to the death wish.</p><p>My piano quintet, <em>Zwiegestalt</em> reflects spheres of an experience that, in their ambivalence, had a deep impact on my life during the composition of this work: mourning my wife Ursula on her death in 2006 and the confidence I regained on meeting my current partner, Christiane. Both names are significant not only in terms of tonal symbolism and structure but also in regard to the expressive characters attached to them. Thus the first, third and fifth movements are based on a motive formed from the notes C – B – E flat – A – E and a 21-note ‘tonal figure’ that further develops this tonal pattern (as well as a rhythmic pattern or system of measures derived from this tonal figure). The second movement is built upon a series of French solfège notes, Ut – Re – Mi – Ut – La (C – D – E flat – C – A), while the fourth movement was developed from an inversion of this tone figure with diminished intervals. ZWIEGESTALT is meant to be absolute music with autobiographical background, not unlike in Alban Berg’s aforementioned string quartet (or certain works from Mahler to B.A. Zimmermann).</p><p>The five movements of <em>Zwiegestalt</em> are entitled as follows:<br />1. Energico e deciso<br />2. Andante triste<br />3. Capriccioso<br />4. Tranquillo misterioso e dolce<br />5. Agitato</p><p><em>Zwiegestalt</em> was composed by commission of the Philharmonie of the City of Essen.</p><p><em>York Höller, Cologne, May 2008.</em></p>