SIEBEN ZERSCHMETTERTE VIOLONCELLI op.672 (July 2015)

A concert piece for solo cello inspired by a sculpture of broken cellos by Arman
Published by: Highbridge Music
Commissioned by: The Kronberg Festival 2015
Instrumentation: solo cello

[Key to Abbreviations]
Duration: 7 mins
First Performance: Benedict Kloeckner cello in the Stadtshalle, Kronberg, October 2nd 2015

Notes

The piece is to be associated or inspired by a piece of chosen artwork, in this case the sculpture: Music power, 1988 von Arman (USA),  exhibited in 1928 in Nizza or  Nice (France) and 2005 in New York. The concept of the concert includes an interview next to a sculpture that should inspire to a composition - 4 sculptures to inspire 4 composers to write 4 new solo works of 5 to 7 minutes duration.

The work will be for cello solo and will be given its first performance played by Benedict Kloeckner

 

Howard Blake, the composer, writes: Asked to react to the Arman sculpture I let my mind run freely around the subject. I saw seven old and presumably worthless cellos piled up as if in a funeral pyre. As a musician one hates to see instruments treated as worthless objects. Instruments should always be treated with respect and venerated for the glorious sounds which they are capable of making. So what was Arman’s thought behind it? 

 

A book (‘The Chronicle of Jazz’ - Mervyn Cooke 2015 ) told me that 1928, when the sculpture was made, saw an attempt to incorporate the cello into jazz. There was one notable jazz cellist called Fred Katz, but on the whole the experiment didn’t work. Perhaps there were seven other cellists who tried it and gave up?  Could that be the significance of the sculpture? Or perhaps 1928 was just the wrong time for such a thing? Well, perhaps 2015 might be the right time for it?

 

But why seven cellos? The number seven ‘combines the union of the ternary and quaternary and hence is endowed with exceptional value...symbolic of perfect order...the number forming the basic series of musical notes, of colours and of the planetary spheres...also of the capital sins and their opposing virtues...and finally the symbol of pain. ’ (‘Dictionary of Symbols’  -  J E Cirlot) .

 

Turning eastwards, seven is also the number of the Chakras and these combined associations led me to compose seven linked virtuosic pieces for solo cello, one for each chakra:

 

1. Muladhara – the sacral plexus, the base, libido.

2. Svadishthana – overt sexual desire

3. Manipura – the solar plexus, the stomach brain of stored-up energy

4. Anahat – the heart, breath

5. Visuadha – the throat, speech

6. Aina – the third eye, clairvoyance

7. Sahasrara – the thousand-petalled lotus, the brain, where matter ascends to spirit

 

 


Performances

2nd October 2015 Benedict Koeckner solo cello, Kronberg Academy

The concept of the concert includes an interview next to a sculpture that should inspire to a composition - 4 new sculptures inspire 4 composers to new solo works (5-7min). The work will be for cello solo, played by Benedict - the sculpture designated is
Music power, 1988 von Arman (USA) exhibited 1928 in Nizza / Nice (France), 2005 in New York.

Howard Blake  writes:

I am asked to react to the Arman sculpture and to be inspired by it. When commissioned for a specific purpose I let my mind run freely around the subject. I see seven old and probably worthless cellos piled up as if in a funeral pyre. As a musician I hate to see instruments treated as worthless objects. Instruments should always be treated with respect, even if they are past their sell-by date. They should be venerated for the glorious sounds which they are capable of making. So what was Arman’s thought behind it?

I had bought a new book on the history of jazz and turning to 1928 saw that an attempt had been made to incorporate cello into jazz in that year. There was at least one notable American jazz cellist called Fred Katz, but on the whole the experiment didn’t work. Perhaps there were seven other cellists who tried it and gave up?  Well, perhaps I should write a cello jazz piece?

The number seven is significant. ‘It combines the union of the ternary and quaternary and hence is endowed with exceptional value...symbolic of perfect order...the number forming the basic series of musical notes, of colours and of the planetary spheres...also of the capital sins and their opposing virtues...and finally the symbol of pain ’ (Dictionary of symbols : J E Cirlot) . Turning eastwards it is also the number of  the Chakras and this led me to the idea of composing seven pieces, one for each chakra:

Sieben Zerschmetterte Violoncelli , Howard Blake Opus

1. Muladhara – the sacral plexus, the base, libido.

2. Svadishthana – overt sexual desire

3. Manipura – the solar plexus, the stomach brain of stored-up energy

4. Anahat – the heart, breath

5. Visuadha – the throat, speech

6. Aina – the third eye, clairvoyance

7. Sahasrara – the thousand-petalled lotus, the brain, where matter ascends to spirit

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