Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Music for Paul Klee

 Philharmonische Vereinigung Arte Sinfonica & Heribert Brandt - Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo

Composer Gunther Schuller immortalized seven works of Klee's in his Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee. The studies are based on a range of works, including Alter Klang [Antique Harmonies], Abstraktes Terzett [Abstract Trio], Little Blue Devil, Twittering Machine, Arab Village, Ein unheimlicher Moment [An Eerie Moment], and Pastorale. The German Ensemble Sortisatio together with the Swiss Groupe Lacroix worked on the project "8 Pieces on Paul Klee", based on the work of the painter. Another Klee-inspired work is Wingate's Second Symphony, subtitled Kleetüden; Variationen für Orchester nach Paul Klee (Variations for Orchestra after Paul Klee) which consists of 27 tone paintings in homage to Klee. The Spanish composer Benet Casablancas's symphonic work Alter Klang. Impromptu for orchestra after Klee, based on Klee's painting of the same title, was commissioned by Orquesta Nacional de España, which prémièred it in 2007 under the baton of Josep Pons. This is not the only piece by Casablancas that is inspired by Klee; in 2007 he composed a chamber cantata Retablo sobre textos de Paul Klee, for soprano, mezzosoprano and piano, commissioned by Fundación Canal in Madrid.

One of Klee's paintings, Angelus Novus, was the object of an interpretive text by German philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin, who purchased the painting in 1921. In his "Theses on the Philosophy of History," Benjamin suggests that the angel depicted in the painting might be seen as representing the angel of history.

In 1938 Steinway pianos manufactured the "Paul Klee series", to commemorate the way in which Klee married the art forms of music and visual art. Only 500 pianos were produced in this limited series, with Vladimir Horowitz being one of those to purchase the piano. Paul Klee described the series as "a great honor and privilege. This tribute has affirmed my life's work."***

In the late sixties, the psychedelic nature of Klee's pieces was revived musically by a group (including jazz composer Chuck Mangione), The National Gallery released the album Performing Musical Interpretations of the Paintings of Paul Klee in 1968, with music and lyrics that are appropriately surprising, strange, and delightful.
From Wikipedia (what else)

*** Addendum: I received an e-mail from a reader who is working on a manuscript on Klee and music. According to him, this is not true but I am leaving it up because I can't verify it either way. 

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