At the last Wien Modern festival, I read that the Spiegel are a classic piece – however I was attacked so viciously there when the Spiegel were performed for the first time. Thank goodness, the way that the Spiegel were received changed completely after the first performance, they were described as an intellectual experiment, as music for the head. It was nothing like that for me, it came from an elementary need to express myself; it was not until the 80s that I discovered to how great an extent I freed myself from my experiences of war with this music. (Friedrich Cerha)
The Lucerne Festival honours Friedrich Cerha with a concert performance of Spiegel I-VII. Composed from 1960-61 and first performed in 1971, the cycle is widely considered as one of the composer’s major works, indeed of post-war Austrian music altogether.
“The pieces were conceived purely musically,” says Cerha, “but it is probable that those phenomena which move me most strongly, and with which I am constantly compelled to engage … have unconsciously nourished my musical imagination. Hence the choice of title. Perhaps a hundred years ago one would have given names to the movements of my Mirror: Mist, Sun, Wind and Sea, Screams, Desert, Terror … But on the conscious level my imagination and compositional procedure remain unaffected by such phenomena.”
Matthias Pintscher conducts Spiegel I-VII on 28 August, with the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy. On 4 September Pintscher brings the cycle to the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.
We talked to Friedrich Cerha about his music: