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At its premiere, ‘a young woman came up to me’ will be preceded by one of my favorite works. I first heard Charles Ives’ ‘Orchestral Set no. 2’ on the radio when I was 15 years old, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra. From that moment on it was carved in my memory. I made a recording and played it hundreds of times. Like no other, Tilson Thomas is capable of making us feel the nostalgic side of Ives’ work.
What impressed me immensely, was the image of the singing commuters on the high metro-platform over Hanover Square. The spontaneously sung hymn by people who struggled to express their horror about the sinking of the Mauretania. A farewell with a mixture of melancholy and patriottism. A combination of dignity and emotion derived from the realization that the world will be different from that moment on.
In 2006, I wrote my first work for piano and orchestra, ‘alle afstand herleid’. In this work the piano is a pioneer, guiding the orchestra. I wrote then: “I love people who believe, who stand for an ideal and i ask myself: those marches 30 years ago with hundreds of thousands, against war, against weapons, for a better world: where are they now?”
My pieces for soloist and orchestra usually display the soloist paving the way. ‘alle afstand herleid’ could be compared to the painting La Liberté guidant le peuple by Delacroix: Marianne with banner in hand, a longing for velvet revolution.
This 2nd piece for piano and orchestra has the same starting point, but the longing for revolution has gone. Without knowing what lies ahead we say goodbye to a world we knew (like the people on Hanover Square). The coming journey is more about people then about goals. It’s a gentle farewell and most of all, a departure and a view on new grounds. We stand up, we fasten our coats, ready to travel off the map as we know it.
I deliberately avoid the term ‘concerto’. I love the format, but don’t see its place in our times. It’s something we must get rid of, music as a circus act, a soloist as superman who shows us how superior he is. To me he or she is a person among other persons, serving, able to show us the road, slowly, groping the way.
I wrote the work in memory of W. G. Sebald, the writer; a man who looked back with great melancholy and who’s work was of a superior beauty.
The title of my work, ‘a young woman came up to me’, is a line from his poem ‘October Heat Wave’.
‘Zimmer 645’ is a poem about a man in a common hotel room. It describes the interior and the grey view. At the end of the day a flock of crows flutters up, heading for an invisible home.
Resumed: a quest, we rise, but there are chasms too, as Hölderlin’s subtitle suggests..