Georg Friedrich Haas: Poème

Georg Friedrich Haas Poème

Georg Friedrich Haas: Poème

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for large orchestra
Georg Friedrich Haas
4 4 4 4 - 6 4 4 1 - timp(2), perc(4), vln.I(18), vln.II(16), vla(11), vc(11), cb(9)
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute (+picc)
4th flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe
3rd oboe
4th oboe (+c.a)
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
3rd clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb))
4th clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(Bb))
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
3rd bassoon
4th bassoon (+cbsn)
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
5th horn in F
6th horn in F
1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
3rd trumpet in C
4th trumpet in C
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
bass trombone
1st timpani
2nd timpani
1st, 2nd violin I
3rd,4th violin I
5th, 6th violin I
7th, 8th violin I
9th, 10th violin I
11th, 12th violin I
13th, 14th violin I
15th, 16th violin I
17th, 18th violin I
1st, 2nd violin II
3rd, 4th violin II
5th, 6th violin II
7th, 8th violin II
9th, 10th violin II
11th, 12th violin II
13th, 14th violin II
15th, 16th violin II
1st, 2nd viola
3rd, 4th viola
5th, 6th viola
7th, 8th viola
9th, 10th viola
11th viola
1st, 2nd violoncello
3rd, 4th violoncello
5th, 6th violoncello
7th, 8th violoncello
9th, 10th violoncello
11th violoncello
1st, 2nd contrabass
3rd, 4th contrabass
5th, 6th contrabass
7th, 8th contrabass
9th contrabass
Commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director
for Yasuko
More Less



The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

The starting point for Poème for large orchestra is the relationship between line and musical space. An unaccompanied melody for solo clarinet begins with a quarter-tone step – on the one hand opening the work with a traditional 'cantilena' gesture, on the other, with this microtonal interval simultaneously pointing towards new worlds to be exploited.

The resonances at the end of each melody are picked up by other orchestral instruments until eventually they fill the entire tonal spectrum. After that they begin to slide up towards the heights in the strings, at first slowly, then with ever increasing speed – while the winds clash against them with their constant, sustained pitches.

The harmonic system elaborated in my previous compositions (from around 1997 onwards) is further developed in Poème. In these works I adopted the concept, discovered by the Russian composer Ivan Wyschnegradsky, of ‘espaces non-octaviantes’ (‘non-octave spaces’), in that I use chords which fill the entire audible (and playable) sound spectrum, and which are based on major sevenths piled up on one another. These major sevenths are then divided approximately in half, from which arises a sequence of piled up fourths and tritones. (There are other variants of this chord, which I have also used repeatedly.) The other sonority which plays a central role in my music of recent years is the overtone chord. Here I was influenced particularly by American composers: Harry Partch, James Tenney, La Monte Young. This chord has two characteristic properties. First, it deviates from the conventional tempered scale – from twelfth-tones and even smaller intervals up to the quarter-tone. (However these microtones do not sound ‘wrong’ here but, rather, soft and melting, since they can be derived directly from the acoustic principles of instrumental sound.) And, secondly, these intervals decrease continuously as one progresses up through the chord.

In Poème I have not used this overtone chord in its original form. Nevertheless I have adopted its principle of diminishing intervals and projected it onto the Wyschnegradsky chord, so that with increasing pitch the approximate halving of the major sevenths is replaced, successively, by division by three, four, six and – finally – eight.

As far as form is concerned, my music is composed as a journey from one state to the next: ‘form’ in the traditional sense does not interest me. What I wish to achieve is a sequence of ever-changing sections, composed to form a continuous process.

The 'cantabile' lines are thickened, the instrumental groups paraphrase them in chorus.

The melodic lines ascend endlessly (in parallel fifths) into the heights and are counterpointed by an independent, endlessly falling melody (in parallel Wyschnegradsky chords). The process grinds to a halt and leads to a pulsating standstill.

Tender melodic turns with after-echoes appear at the end of the work.

There is no recapitulation, no developing variation, no dialectic process involving two contrasting forms: only a ‘Being There’ (Da-Sein) of different states of sound.

Poème is dedicated to Yasuko Ueda.

Georg Friedrich Haas

Special prints


Georg Friedrich Haas: Poème

study score
for large orchestra , 17’
Instr.: 4 4 4 4 - 6 4 4 1 - timp(2), perc(4), vln.I(18), vln.II(16), vla(11), vc(11), cb(9)

World première

Cleveland (US)
Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst

Other works

Sign up for our newsletter!

You will regularly receive information about new scores with free downloads, current prize games and news about our composers.