Johannes Maria Staud (1974)
On Comparative Meteorology (2008 -2009)
- General information
Composition date :
2008 - 2009
Revision dates : 2010
- Duration : 17 mn
- Publisher : Universal Edition
- Commission: Orchestre de Cleveland
- Composition date : 2008 - 2009
- Instrumental ensemble music [Triple wind orchestra (or larger)]
- 4 flutes, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 1 basset horn, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 1 trumpet, 2 trombones, 2 cornets, 1 bass trumpet, 1 tuba, 1 timpani, 4 percussionists, 1 harp, 1 celesta, 1 piano, 14 violins, 12 second violins, 10 violas, 8 cellos, 6 double basses
28 May 2009
l'Orchestre de Cleveland direction : Franz Welser-Möst.
29 October 2010
Autriche, Vienne, Konzerthaus
l'Orchestre symphonique de la Radio de Vienne, direction : Peter Eötvös.
This work is the result of a startling discovery: I discovered Bruno Schulz. The only surviving works by this Polish-Jewish visionary are the two short story collections Cinnamon shops (Sklepy cynamonowe) and Sanatorium under the sign of the hourglass (Sanatorium pod klepsydra), along with the short story The Comet (Kometa), a few prose fragments, letters and sketches – but his oeuvre had a meteoric impact on the world of literature, and its significance is only gradually gaining world-wide recognition.
Using fantastically exaggerated memories of his own childhood, Bruno Schulz creates a bizarre world that is a law entirely unto itself, with a hyper-realistic language of incomparable colourfulness. Outside temporal causality, Schulz dissects reality into its individual components and puts them together again in new combinations like a kaleidoscope, fractured by an individual consciousness for which prosaic literalism seems not to exist.
Hypertrophic descriptions of nature and weather and their unique reflections in the inner life of humans; questionable acts of demiurgism and uncharted realms of existence; byways and blind alleys in time; these are his themes, the foundations of his bizarre world, which is made up of the little narrator Jozef, his enigmatic father Jakub, the lascivious servant Adela and a series of other peculiar figures. The heat of an August day, the violence of a stormy night (in the company of an unhinged and fulminating aunt), the fertility of the arrival of spring (and its interpretation with the help of a stamp album) ...; I do not exaggerate when I say that I have seen all these things with new eyes and experienced them with new senses since I started reading Bruno Schulz.
On Comparative Meteorology is made up of six variously short pieces, which follow each other without pause. The work is inspired by my wonderful experience with the Cleveland Orchestra and the incredible strengths of its individual members, and it represents my attempt to trace the mysterious world of Bruno Schulz in a musical way.
In spite of my best efforts, I have failed to fulfil my wish to precede each movement with a short, evocative quote by Bruno Schulz. This is probably down to two reasons: on the one hand, Schulz's stories are so complete and perfect on their own that any attempt to drag any element out of its context ends up being a mutilation of the complexity of the original; but on the other hand, a single page of Bruno Schulz offers more condensed invention and a greater variety of mysterious trap-doors than the entire oeuvre of some bestseller novelists.
All that remains in the end is the title: On Comparative Meteorology, taken from the short story A Second Autumn in which the father of the narrator conducts the most peculiar studies of the parasitically rampant autumn wildlife in his area. So my recommendation is this, in case you haven't already gleaned it from these lines: read Bruno Schulz and you will understand my obsession and inspiration for this piece!
Johannes Maria Staud.