Visiting Ensembles

musikFabrik | RIAS Kammerchor

Wolfgang Rihm and Luigi Nono formed an intense, mutually inspiring friendship during the last ten years of Nono’s life. Rihm once said about his Italian colleague: “The composer Luigi Nono was a great opener, a great icebreaker, not someone who let himself be defined, but someone who from one moment to the next would point somewhere else, somewhere that only an instant before could not have ever been imagined; where now, suddenly, a new possibility is created. To see that possibility – and see it together (!) with other, completely unrelated possibilities – that’s a tremendous facility from which I’ve learned so much.”

Following Nono’s death, Wolfgang Rihm wrote five works in close succession that he dedicated to his late friend: “All in memoriam music fashions its own futility in every note and thus its albeit-existence,” commented Rihm on this series of works. “Especially when it is given a name. An obituary? No, more like a continued conversing, a continued spinning where a conversation, a life in passing, the threads of a life, the paths of a life have been breached unilaterally. An attempt to re-establish the lost two-sidedness or to continue talking into the void...” The “Fifth Attempt”, entitled La lugubre gondola / Das Eismeer alludes to Franz Liszt’s late piano composition La lugubre gondola, which became a memorial to his friend Richard Wagner. Rihm also – with a nod to Luigi Nono, the politically engaged, committed socialist – makes reference to Caspar David Friedrich’s painting The Sea of Ice, a symbol of dashed hopes and utopias. “Luigi Nono is also in every sense a revered role model for me because he represents the genuine type of seeking, failing, wholly certain, wholly uncertain artist”, said Rihm once in an interview. He regarded Nono’s Prometeo as a key work in the development of novel forms of dramatic music, and after the Italian composer’s death, he himself turned to the figure of Prometheus. His work Raumauge is based on mythical titan’s final monologue from the tragedy by Aeschylus.

Rihm’s Mnemosyne draws on Friedrich Hölderlin’s late hymn named for the Greek goddess of memory and mother of the Muses. The act of remembering, reflecting on the past, is a focal point of many works by Luigi Nono, not least his Prometeo.

Concert Programme

Wolfgang Rihm [*1952]

Final monologue of Prometheus
for mixed choir and 5 percussionists [1986, 1993/94]
after Aischylos / Handke

Astralis (»Über die Linie« III)
for choir, cello and 2 kettledrums [2001]
after Novalis

abgewandt 2 Music in memoriam Luigi Nono (3rd attempt)
for 14 instrumentalists [1990]

Umfassung Music in memoriam Luigi Nono (4th attempt)
for orchestra in 2 groups [1990]

La lugubre gondola / Das Eismeer
Music in memoriam Luigi Nono (5th attempt)
for 2 orchestra groups and 2 pianos [1990–92]

for high soprano and ensemble [2006/09]
after Hölderlin