The Courier's Tragedy


The Courier's Tragedy is a part of my Pynchon Cycle, comprised of the following works: The Tristero System for Ensemble (Duration: 18'), The Courier's Tragedy für Violoncello solo (19') W.A.S.T.E. for Oboe and Live Elektronics (18') D.E.A.T.H. for Eight-track tape (12') The starting point of the Pynchon Cycle is the novel The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, who I consider one of the most important novelists of our time, and with whom I feel much in common, above all a paranoid world-view of a thoroughly amoralized and dehumanized (entbürgerlicht?) society, as can be seen in the present-day megapolis. In a conscious distancing from other cycles of the immediate present--such as those by György Kurtág, Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid--I was concerned in this cycle with something hard, almost brutal, with the logical consequentiality of ultimately senseless procedures which appear to mediate everything with everything else, without being able to create thereby anything meaningful. To this "hardness" I responded in my selection of material, consciously acknowledged as hideous; in addition, the compositional and therefore formal strategies are settled on the border of what a composer educated in the fine old European tradition might consider fractured and distorted. The Courier's Tragedy translates the narrative structure Renaissance horror-play of the same name from The Crying of Lot 49 by means of a mechanical sequence of numbers and proportions, which are applied to all levels of the construction, this consciously independent of whether this was musically "sensible" or not. The cold rationality of a complex networking here corresponds to a paranoid sense-lessness. In The Courier's Tragedy, the cellist is placed in an absurd situation: the score is notated on 12 systems, which simultaneously offer a multitude of potentials for sonic shaping and, due to their internal contradictions, appear to render their realization impossible. During the course of the theatrical piece unfolded in a prologue, five acts and an epilogue, the sovereignty of the interpreter as master of the instrument is systematically undermined, until at the end the possibility of playing the cello itself is rendered impossible. Exhausted and robbed of his expressive capabilities, the player plays in a void and attempts in vain to attain melodic quality from the wooden body, a quality that the four strings have long since surrendered.

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