Universal Edition - Wolfgang Rihm – Hölderlin-Fragmente

Wolfgang Rihm

Wolfgang Rihm

Year of composition: 1977
Version: 2nd version
Scored for: for voice and orchestra
Composer: Wolfgang Rihm
Soloists: voice
Instrumentation: 2 1 1 1 - 2 1 1 1 - perc, hp, pno, t.sax(Bb), str(4 4 4 4 4)
Instrumentation details:
flute (+picc)
alto flute
cor anglais
bass clarinet
tenor saxophone in Bb
violin I(4)
violin II(4)
Duration: 10′
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Audio Excerpt


World Première

Location: Mainz / Germany
Date: 28.11.1982
Orchestra: SWF-Sinfonieorchester
Conductor: Jirí Belohlávek
Main Soloists: Wolfgang Müller-Lorenz, Bar

Work Introduction

Rihm himself says clearly: “Hölderlin cannot be reduplicated by, with or in music.” Yet he sees an opportunity to do so in the interstices, the auratic aspect of Hölderlin’s fragments. Therefore, in attempting to set them to music, he found his approach not in the language itself but over it, under it, “on its skin, in its climate.”

Rihm’s music breaks off and starts anew, underlining the fragmentary aspect of the texts, the splinters harbouring historical strata of expression – in the vocal part, for example, and the allusion in Section Three where the composer makes use of the textual similarity to Schubert’s Lied Die Stadt.

Unlike some of his other compositions, which tend toward concentrated, loud outbursts, Rihm’s music here is gentler, treating the revered poet with restraint and manifest respect. He also feels himself beholden to Hölderlin’s spirit for the future, attempting to comply with the demand for artistic candour, yet without “making use of the signs for ‘candour’ already introduced.”

Joachim Noller

Translation Copyright © 2012 by Grant Chorley

4 Ensembles that have played this work:

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