Hands

Three meditations for large organ after sculptures by A. Rodin. [1996] | duration: 14’00”

The three sculptures of hands by Rodin should not be regarded as a direct “model” for these organ pieces, but served as the source of my musical imagination and. triggered sensations which I then tried to express musically. Only in individual aspects was I concerned with a compositional “tracing” of the sculptures. Overall, the creation of the music was much more affected by associations. Hence, in some respects there was a direct, but often also an indirect link between Rodin’s hands and my music, which occasionally also took on the character of a personal commentary.

The references are emotional, formal as well as intellectual. According to these points of view, some remarks are in order as follows.

The emotional level, as such, does not require a detailed comment. To capture the effect of the sculptures atmospherically and to reproduce it musically was one of my attempts, but hardly the only one, nor the dominating one in all phases. Anyway, the extent to which the music emotionally corresponds to the sculptures must be evaluated subjectively by the listener. More important seem to me to be the indications of formal and content-related references, since abstract considerations often cannot be clearly conveyed by music.

First, a few words about Rodin’s level which I have not addressed – the symbolism of the sculptures. The sculptures are (like many other works of Rodin) studies about love: God, one could say, has created love in the form of a couple (!), with all that eroticism which the sculptor has expressed in such an incomparable way. Love is thus “God’s house” on earth: the cathedral (it is erected by two right hands!). All this, of course, is a “secret”.

There is nothing to add to this, especially since music always remains mysterious anyway (good music at least). But there are other fascinating layers involved: the fragile, the unfinished, which always plays a major role in Rodin’s works. An area, too, that fascinates me (and which, by the way, plays a decisive role in 20th century music): abrupt mood changes, “open” developments, anti-conclusions, etc. Love, too, is never “finished.” The viewer/listener can, after all, “complete” in thought. The “Hand of God” has set something in motion, nothing finished yet, and by striving for “completion”, we aspire to confidence. The association with the Bach chorale “Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan” resulted for me from the meditative contemplation. That is, from a distant perspective, however, with a question mark.

More than in the other pieces, formal considerations characterize the music of the Cathedral. The image of two identical hands – which complement each other and thus combine distinction with similarity – corresponded to me with the structure of a two-part inversion canon, played predominantly in manual. Here, the visual impression of the sculpture was important for me: the image of fingers, permeable, trying to withhold something, turned into a network of tones, in complementary rhythm and with a slightly minimalistic touch.

Besides all these considerations, the “Rodin-Meditations” implement three musical characters, namely, energetic drama with abrupt changes – a realm of “appassionato” in the “Hand of God” –, lyrical sensations, enigmatically broken in the “Secret”, and playful movements in the “Cathedral”.

Press (in german)

Martin Lichtfuss’ “Hände. Drei Meditationen für Orgel nach Skulpturen von Auguste Rodin” von 1996 künden von Rodin-Verehrung, aber auch in drei Abschnitten von der “Hand Gottes”, einem “Geheimnis” und der “Kathedrale”. Es ist Musik, die Räume baut, wie es nur die Orgel tut, die ihre Geheimnisse im Hintergrund, der manchmal in Mittelstimmen tönend wird, birgt und sich einer unaussprechlichen Gestaltungsmacht zu nähern sucht.

Ursula Strohal, Tiroler Tageszeitung, 2.12.2010

1. The Hand of God:
2. The Secret:
3. The Cathedral:

organ of the dome at St. Pölten, Ludwig Lusser

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