a melodrama based on the text by Oskar Kokoschka


World Premiere:16 September 2009, The Two Moors Festival, St Michael’s Church, Milverton, UK


Andreas Haefliger(pno)/Heinz Marecek(speaker)/Anssi Karttunen(vc)/David Orlowsky(cl,bcl)/Marina Piccinini(fl)/Tamsin Waley-Cohen(vl)


commissioned by Andreas Haefliger



The first challenge in setting to music “The Dreaming Boys” by Oskar Kokoschka was to give the musical drama shape. The music I wrote first is the music of the actual dream narrative in the middle of the text.

The episodes that are grouped around this section, with the exception of the introduction and coda, each start with the phrase “und ich fiel nieder und träumte…” (and I fell down and dreamed…) and follow the different strands of the narrative.This technique of variation most resembles that of a Rondo, but I have interpreted it as a Suite: character pieces that can be traced back to a single common origin.


The original source of the music is, as previously mentioned, the initially composed dream narrative for which I chose the form of a Passacaglia. The theme of the Passacaglia gives rise to the scale-like runs (and the ensuing harmonic development) which can be heard at the start of the prelude.


These two parts are composed in free tonality. As the Suite is based on a row developed from the Passacaglia theme, the connection to other  parts of the Suite still remains.However,while in the 2nd movement “Allemande”the original 12 ton row is used in all following movements 1 note in the 1st and 2nd half of the row respectively is exchanged. In the penultimate movement, the Gigue, a total of eight notes (4 notes in each half of the row)therefore differ from the Allemande, the first movement after the prelude. The final movement, the Metamorphoses, contains only one of the original notes in .both halfs of the tone row A new row,a new connection has arisen out of the old. A metamorphosis has taken place.


V Air


Marina Piccinini(fl),David Orlowsky(cl.),Arnaud Sussmann(vl),Jan Vogler(vc),Andreas Haefliger(pno),Andrew Watts(voice),Anu Tali(cond.)