Voyage with Don Quixote

a suite for piano

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a suite for piano

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Year of Composition 2016
Duration ca.40'

Instrumentation Piano
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-ck1vdq1


Commissioned by CID / Fraen an Gender with the financial support of the Luxembourg Ministry of Culture.

The world premiere took place on 12.10.16 at the Mierscher Kulturhaus, Luxembourg as a reading with music performed by Cathy Krier (piano) and Dietmar Bär (reading).

Voyage with Don Quixote – Suite for piano

1. Rotterdam
2. North Sea
3. The English Channel
4 Bay of Biscay
5. North Atlantic Ocean I
6. North Atlantic Ocean II
7. Nova Scotia
8. Rhode Island
9. New York

This suite for piano is based on Thomas Mann’s diary, Voyage with Don Quixote. On his first Atlantic crossing in 1932, the writer read Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha and recorded his thoughts. The imposing ocean and slow, reflective pace of the journey offer a nice contrast to the knight’s strange, impulsive adventures: as the journey and book intertwine in the musical narrative, the scenes from the novel are projected onto the changing seascape. At the premiere, the performance was interwoven with readings of nine excerpts from Cervantes’ work and Thomas Mann’s Voyage with Don Quixote. However, the suite works just as well as a piece for solo piano.

The complex character of Don Quixote is reflected in the diversity of the nine pieces of this suite – at times playful, stubborn, romantic, deranged, thoughtful, noisy, and always adventurous. The pianist takes on the role of a musical knight who must fight not only upon the keys but within the belly of the piano – even, at one point, taking on a dramatic depiction of the famous windmills. As such, the performer must wear a ‘scabbard’ (or other similar implement) upon their back to hold the beaters required for this musical jousting.

The music’s structure was dictated by the various stages of Mann’s voyage, with tempi adapted to the average wind strength in May (according to the data from the writer’s diary) in these various locations. For the beginning and end of the journey – Rotterdam and New York – I relied upon the exact analysis of the frequencies of the sound of a foghorn. In this piece, I work a lot with the resonant capacity of the instrument, and this ‘foghorn’ can be heard over and over again in the course of the music.