As part of the exhibition “Everything we do is music,” Kunsthaus Pasquart is hosting two concerts with EPhB that will highlight the influence of Indian classical music on Central European and American contemporary music.
Along with Maurice Delage, Albert Roussel was one of the first Western composers to undertake a study trip to India. In 1909, he and his wife made a long trip to India and Southeast Asia. The impressions of Indian music are reflected above all in the metre of the third movement “Krishna” from the cycle “Jouers de flûte”, which deals playfully with irregular beats.
Olivier Messiaen’s main sources of inspiration, besides bird songs, were Indian rhythms, which play a leading role in “Cantéyodjayâ,” one of his first piano works, as well as in the “Turangalîla Symphony,” written almost simultaneously.
The three piano pieces “Elis” by the Swiss composer Heinz Holliger are inspired by lines of poetry by the Austrian poet Georg Trakl. Holliger illustrates the longing for death that speaks from the poems with Indian rhythms, some of which Olivier Messiaen also uses in his music.
Giacinto Scelsi’s work has been influenced since early years by Eastern philosophies, especially from India. In his “Quattro Illustrazioni” he describes four “avatars” of the Indian god Vishnu. The duo for flute and clarinet from 1966 entitled “Ko-Lho” is based on Scelsi’s “philosophy” of the single tone as the foundation of musically invoked transcendence. Scelsi’s preoccupation with non-European music led him away from “occidental” polyphony toward monophonic music enriched with microintervals and multiphonics.
The American composer John Cage was inspired by the Indian aesthetic “Rasa” in his “Sonatas and Interludes” (1946-48), the “String Quartet” (1950) and the “Six Melodies” (1950). The term “Rasa” refers to the mental state of joy and fulfillment, which cannot be put into words, that arises in the viewer when enjoying a successful work of art.
The North Indian Sarangi inspired the Swiss composer Martin Jaggi to write “Kôrd III”. Traditionally, the pitches on this instrument are produced with the nail bed of a finger of the left hand; the finger is thus placed between the string and the fingerboard and pressed against the string from below. For Jaggi, the sound of the Sarangi’s resonating strings comes from the piano: he has e-bows placed on the strings, which produce a quite extraordinary, rather technically cool, or in Jaggi’s words, a “magical sound.”
The driving rhythms of the fast parts are speech rhythms, derived from scientific lexicon entries about the Sarangi.