Elliott Carter (1908-2012)

Trilogy (1992)

for oboe and harp

  • General information
    • Composition date: 1992
    • Duration: 15 mn
    • Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
    • Dedication: For Ursula and Heinz Holliger
Detailed formation
  • oboe, harp

Premiere information

  • Date: 30 June 1992

    Italie, Sermonetta, Pontino Festival


    Heinz Holliger : hautbois et Ursula Holliger : harpe.


voir aussi chaque partie séparément

Table of contents

Program note

My Trilogy for oboe and harp, composed for those great performers and dear friends, Ursula and Heinz Holliger, has as its motto the last two stanzas of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonette an Orpheus, II. 10. (Printed here in boldface type are the three phrases used as mottos for the three parts of Trilogy.):

Aber noch ist uns das Dasein verzaubert; an hundert
Stellen ist es noch Ursprung. Ein Spielen von reinen
Kräften, die keener berührt, der nicht kniet und bewundert. 

Worte gehen noch zart am Unsäglichen aus…
Und die Musik, immer neu, aus den bebendsten Steinen,
baut im unbrauchbaren Raum ihr vergöttliches Haus.

But existence is still enchanting for us; in hundreds
f places it is still pristine, A play of pure forces, 
which no one can touch without kneeling and adoring.

Words still peter out into what cannot be expressed…
And music, ever new, builds out of the most tremulous stones her divinely
consecrated house in unexploitable space

Each of the three sections of Trilogy was written for a special occasion. Bariolage (which has the motto: Ein Spielen von reinen Kräften) is a harp solo written for a festival of my music given in Geneva in March, 1992, for Ursula Holliger, to whom it is dedicated, to play. I was interested in writing for the harp as I had been a friend and admirer of Carlos Salzedo who wrote for the harp in such an inventive way.

Inner Song (which has the motto: Worte gehen noch zart am Unsäglichen aus…) was written for a festival of Stefan Wolpe’s music in Witten, Germany, in April, 1992, for Heinz Holliger to perform, to whom it is dedicated. The fascinating friendship with Wolpe is a very treasured memory.

Immer Neu (whose motto is: die Musik, immer neu) is dedicated to Ursula and Heinz Holliger and provides a duet for them. Its outlook was suggested by Raffaele Pozzi who asked for the first performance at the Pontino Festival in June, 1992, a festival centered around a vision of the new that led so many beside Columbus to explore the world 500 years ago. In this piece each instrument in turn leads the other to a new tempo.

Elliott Carter.