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Resting at the old monastery

Solo for bass flute (1992/94)

In Memoriam John Cage

 

Resting at the old monastery

 

How the mountains slowly

draw nearer,

and the big storm

howls closer.

 

At night it seems

as if the moon was more familiar,

and in the walls

where bushes grow

are hanging stars.

 

You are enchanted

by an old, crumbling world.

 

Poem by Su Dung-Po (1036-1101), English translation by Alexandra Schulz



I wrote “Rest at the old monastery”, a solo for bass flute (1992/94), in memory of John Cage. The revised version of the piece is dedicated to Suzanne Huber on her 60th birthday.

When Cage died in August 1992, Reinhard Oehlschlägel asked a number of composers to write short pieces in honor of his memory. I immediately knew what I wanted to write, and which poem I wanted to use. Back then I thought, the composition's theme would be, once more, The Familiar and The Foreign.

The work's title is referring to Günter Eich's German translation of a Chinese poem by Su Shi (1036-1101): “Rast in einem alten Kloster” (Resting at the old monastery)

 

Leg dich hier ins Gras, dann wirst du spüren,

wie die Berge langsam zu dir kommen,

und der große Strom rauscht nahe.

Nachts ist dir der Mond Vertrauter,

und wo aus den Mauern Sträuche blühen,

hängen Sterne. Du bist ganz im Zauber

einer alten und verfallenen Landschaft.

 

“Aus dem Chinesischen“  Bibliothek Suhrkamp Frankfurt am Main 1973, S. 126

 

Lie down in the grass and you will feel

the mountains slowly drawing nearer,

and the big storm howling closer.

At night, the moon is your familiar,

And where bushes grow through the walls,

You see the stars. You are enchanted

By an old, crumbling world.

English translation by Alexandra Schulz

The bass flute is capable of expressing a flow and tranquility that touches us deeply. With its broad, deep, colorful sounds, this instrument carries the root note further and further. The last breaths take us home.

Younghi Pagh-Paan, July 2000

 

 


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