Some thoughts on the premiere of ‘Nachtgedanken’
How did the project start?
It started with a letter of encouragement that Peter the poet sent to Anke when she was experiencing a difficult phase in her life. The letter was a beautiful story with a lot of imagery, and it did her a lot of good. At the end of the letter, he asked if we were interested in some poems to put them to music. We said ‘sure’ and sure enough – not much later there was ‘Ich lerne einen Menschen kennen’, followed by ‘Das Paradies’. And just last week Peter the poet sent a third one.
Peter the composer, how do you compose music to a poem?
“In much the same way a poem comes into being. The poet hears words, phrases, a theme, and writes them down. The composer hears a tune, a melody, piano chords, and writes them down.”
But how do you make something that hasn’t existed before?
“Well, if I ask you to draw a house and use your imagination, you will probably draw something that hasn’t existed before. It sounds simple, but it is exactly how it feels to me when I compose.”
Before starting on a composition project, do you listen to certain music, certain styles?
“Why should I do that?”
Well, perhaps to get some inspiration, or to move you into a certain direction.
“No, I don’t do that. In fact, it would interfere with my inner process. I never listen to music when I am working on a composition.”
You say you were influenced by the language?
“Yes, the poems are pointing me in one single direction – that of the German music tradition. And of course within that, there is an ocean of sounds. There is Schubert, and also Kurt Weill. There are beautiful melodies, and also what is known as Sprechgesang: half-sung, half-spoken. Reading the words, imagining how they sound when read by a German-speaking person, I just hear music, at some point. Sometimes I hear a rhythm. For instance, Das Paradies provided a wonderful cadence that was the basis for the music. So when I have that – a tune, a pulse, a theme – I put it on paper, and the composition takes shape from there.”
Will we be interviewing Peter the poet as well?
“I don’t think so. He is writing new poems.”
‘Ich lerne einen Menschen kennen’ and ‘Das Paradies’ are part of the project Nachtgedanken. More songs to follow soon. Please like and subscribe on our Youtube Channel.
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