When Friedrich Cerha received an enquiry from the Gewandhaus Orchestra, asking whether he would be interested in a small commissioned piece to be performed before Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and preferably connected to it, his first response was a definite ‘no’.
“I did not want to write music
about someone else’s music. Against my will, however, the opening movement of
the symphony haunted me in the days following the request and I was unable to
banish it from my mind. Ever since I first heard the piece as a child, it has
held a particular fascination for me – with its mysterious fifths and
descending fourths, the tremolo and the powerful resolution of the final
cadence. The material began reshaping itself and blossoming rapidly in my
In the end, Cerha did accept the commission, and the results, Paraphrase über den Anfang der 9. Symphonie von Beethoven [Paraphrase on the beginning of Beethoven’s 9th] will be given its world première on 6 Oct. Riccardo Chailly conducts the Gewandhausorchester.