Music of the Other Germany

By Leon Botstein

Written for the concert Music of the Other Germany, performed on Jan 25, 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

It is hard to believe that twenty years have passed since the fall of Communism. Almost until the very end, the idea that Communism would be a permanent albeit evolving presence in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union was a firmly held belief among the most sophisticated and knowledgeable observers. The wisdom of hindsight (the metaphorical retrospectroscope) should not diminish the momentous and unexpected character of the collapse of the Communist system. Part of that Cold War structure was a divided Germany. Until 1989 the unification of Germany was at best a vague aspiration, and it too occurred with breathtaking rapidity.

Among the nations that were part of the Soviet sphere of influence, East Germany developed a reputation as a stable and doctrinaire socialist state. Its loyalty to Moscow was unquestioned, and it provided a reliable reactionary counterweight to progressive developments in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia during the 1950s and 1960s. East Germany was literally the front line between east and west, the physical locus of that famous phrase the “Iron Curtain,” the most powerful symbol of which was the Berlin Wall. Berlin became the epicenter of spy novels and intrigue, a microcosm of what appeared to be the permanent division in Europe, the geographical and ideological bequest of the defeat of Nazism.

In the twenty years since 1989, there has been a tremendous amount of historical revisionism regarding what actually happened in East Germany after 1945. Conventional wisdom before 1989 held up the creation of a separate East German socialist state as a de facto victory over Fascism. But as it turned out, there was as much continuity between old and new in East Germany as there was in West Germany. A large portion of both bureaucratic and intellectual elites remained in place despite the regime change. Over time, the East German secret police, the Stasi, became emblematic of all Soviet-style secret police agencies. The Stasi successfully infiltrated every dimension of life, including art, culture, and science.

At the same time, however, East Germany as a separate entity began and ended with some measure of idealism. The émigrés and exiles who returned to East Germany in the wake of Hitler’s defeat included Bertolt Brecht, Hanns Eisler, and Arnold Zweig. They hoped they could create a radically new world founded on principles of social justice and equality. Even when the wall fell, there were many who thought—perhaps rightly—that there were traditions and beliefs identified with the East and that could and should be preserved in a united Germany. There was something of value to be cherished. For them the fall of Communism did not mean a blanket vindication of Western practices and conceits, particularly in the area of economic and social policy. In the arts in particular, East Germany had developed an enviable system of state subsidy, supporting a fabulous network of theater groups, opera companies, orchestras, publishing houses, and educational institutions, much of which quickly disappeared when the subsidy ran out, depriving the East German population of its local traditions of affordable, excellent artistic achievement and cultural access. It is for this paradoxical reason that the life and culture of East Germany has been such a successful subject for films marked by irony, humor, and a sense of loss, such as the recent Goodbye, Lenin (2003) and The Lives of Others ( 2006).

Ultimately, however, the collapse of Communism particularly in East Germany was caused by a massive gap between ideological rhetoric and reality. Whether in industry or in the arts, the illusion of success and health was really only that: illusion. East Germany was always especially vulnerable to a process of critical self-recognition within its population because of demographic and familial links between East and West, and modern communications, notably television. It was hard for the East German government to isolate its population completely. During the run of a famous television show imported from America named Dallas, the joke was that the theaters and concert halls of East Berlin were empty when Larry Hagman could be seen driving his Rolls Royce around his Texas ranch.

It would, however, be a mistake to dismiss over forty years of cultural and artistic activity in East Germany as negligible or valueless merely because of the complex and compromising role played by the state and ideology. What the music on today’s concert suggests is that composers in the East faced, albeit under different circumstances, problems not entirely dissimilar to those of their Western contemporaries. Given the close association between the musical language of late Romanticism and strains of populism with Fascist aesthetics and Nazi ideals of “healthy” art, what sort of music could and needed to be written that would match the aspirations for a new era?

One central difference between East and West was that in the East there was never– either officially or unofficially–anything approximating the engagement with history, especially regarding the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, that there was in West Germany. The official triumph of socialism in the East over its arch-enemy Fascism, made any public debate or soul searching seemingly ideological superfluous. Nevertheless, the aesthetic problem remained and Hanns Eisler became the central figure in the first decades of East Germany’s musical culture. Although he had an early phase influenced by the radical modernism of Schoenberg, already in the 1930s Eisler rejected modernist developments as somehow detached from people and human experience. He sought to craft an accessible language of music that could at once reach the public and yet be distinguished aesthetically from both commercial Western popular music and the appropriated traditionalism so dear to the Nazis. A moral equivalent of socialist realism in literature ultimately became the ideal in music. But for a composer to find a language that corresponded with ideology and yet was authentically personal or subjective, two ingredients were required that were not in the recipe book of the East German regime. The first was freedom, and the second the consequence of freedom: the expression of individuality. The critique of individuality and freedom as bourgeois illusions could hold sway ultimately only as rhetoric. Therefore each of the composers on today’s program pursued a path which created a dialogue fashioned in coded and particularly personal ways with history. Radical modernism argued that music in the modern age needed to shed history and confront tradition by highlighting its absence. East German composers understood this as a delusive imperative, since history and tradition never failed to hang over the modernist movement that gripped West Germany during the 1950s and 1960s, for instance in the music of the then most celebrated protagonist of modernism, Karlheinz Stockhausen.

In Paul Dessau’s case, history and tradition meant his own past as a Jewish composer and as an idealistic socialist whose perspective ultimately differed from that of the regime. For Rudolf Wagner-Régeny, the past meant an internal dialogue with his own early career that flourished, though with ups and downs, under Nazi rule. And for Eisler, the past meant not only the interwar experimentation and political agitation, but the experience of exile to and deportation from the United States. Above all for Eisler, the past also held the hope that the most treasured part of the German heritage could be celebrated without an obvious connection to Fascism or destructive nationalism, the era of Goethe and Schiller and classical Weimar. It could be reborn in a new Communist Germany without the reservations inherent in the critique of Enlightenment contained in the writings of Adorno and Horkheimer. Despite the deconstruction of Enlightenment, if there was one thing that bridged East and West Germany after 1945, it was the effort to reclaim a “good” Germany rooted in the eighteenth century and the Enlightenment—the Germany of painting, literature, architecture, and music before the onset of modern nationalism.

For the younger generation of East German composers, represented on today’s program by Matthus and Zimmermann, the past meant not one that was experienced but one that was imagined. After 1968, East German composers were more able to absorb influences from developments in the West. Modernism could be adapted for purposes that still put forward ideals compatible with the socialist state. Tradition, as is audible in Matthus’s Responso, could be reborn and reconfigured. In Zimmermann’s music, the discreet use of J.S. Bach and the relation between text and music could justify a measure of experimentation. In both of these works we encounter the special gift of music: its indeterminacy as music with respect to ordinary meaning and significance. Zimmermann’s text is a memorial elegy to Federico García Lorca, the great Spanish poet and victim of the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. That war was after all a common post-World War II ground between East and West: the so-called last great cause, a lingering symbol of freedom and idealism placed in resistance and contrast to brute force, tyranny, and apathy.

The purpose of this concert is to inspire a tolerant and candid engagement with our past. East German life and culture before 1989 are easily susceptible to ridicule. They are undeserving of nostalgic sentiments. The suppression of freedom, the violence of the state, and the corruption and hypocrisy should not inspire admiration. But at the same time, through music, more than one generation of talented composers in East Germany sought, despite tyranny and the pressure to conform, the redemption of human possibility through music. They employed tradition and innovation in unique and memorable ways. We acknowledge without difficulty that East Germany provided many distinguished contributions to performance practice, from the era of the theater director Walter Felsenstein to that of Kurt Masur. There is a parallel richness to be discovered in the work of East German composers as well, those who lived in the German Democratic Republic between 1945 and 1989.

Music therefore has unique possibilities as a means of human expression, even in eras of censorship and under regimes of autocracy and terror. It is harder to speak of collaboration and complicity for composers than it is for writers and painters, not so much in regard to personal conduct, but in regard to the nature of the works of art themselves. When it comes to music, we should give the period of the German Democratic Republic the same latitude we have afforded to the Soviet era and the era of Metternich.

Hann Eisler, Auferstanden aus Ruinen, Hymne der DDR

By Laura Silverberg, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, Columbia University

Written for the concert Music of the Other Germany, performed on Jan 25, 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

Lionized in the GDR as the founding father of socialist German music, Hanns Eisler (1898–1962) was an ardent socialist who once declared that true musical progress “is not only the adoption of new technical methods, but the adoption of new technical methods to new social goals.” His remarkably diverse oeuvre, which includes workers’ choruses, dodecaphonic chamber music, and Hollywood film scores, reflects his unusual career trajectory. A favorite student of Arnold Schoenberg, Eisler composed atonal and twelve-tone works during the early 1920s. As he became involved with the German Communist Party, he turned to writing tonal, tuneful mass songs and music for Bertolt Brecht’s didactic plays. Eisler fled Germany when the Nazis came to power and spent over a decade in New York and Los Angeles. His music from this period of exile shows a fluid integration of various techniques and styles, from folklike and diatonic to twelve-tone. After a series of hearings and threat of deportation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, Eisler left the United States in 1948 and eventually settled in East Berlin. Faced with the task of writing music for the fledgling socialist state, Eisler returned to texted genres and a simpler musical language.

The opposition between Germany’s shared past and its divided future became especially apparent in 1949, a year marked by celebrations of Goethe’s 200th birthday and the official founding of two separate German states. Lacking political recognition outside the Eastern Bloc, party leaders in the GDR focused on the realm of culture to assert East Germany’s superiority to the West, maintaining that the GDR was the sole heir to Germany’s cultural heritage. Composers, artists, and writers were therefore encouraged to create a new socialist art that connected Germany’s past to East Germany’s present.

Composed for the Goethe year festivities, Eisler’s Goethe Rhapsody had its premiere in Weimar in August 1949. In his selection and presentation of Goethe’s text, Eisler not only emphasized the continuity between Germany’s past and present, but also reinterpreted the heritage in a manner relevant to contemporary society. The text to the Rhapsody includes two fragments from Act III of the second book of Faust, which ties together antiquity and medieval Germany through Faust’s romance with Helen of Troy. But the lines from Faust also held relevance for contemporary Germany, still in ruins in the devastating aftermath of the Second World War. As Eisler noted in a radio interview shortly before the premiere, the basic idea of the work is found in the line “Doch erfrischet neue Lieder”—that “music today can give us strength and refreshment.” Borrowing material from Eisler’s music for the 1948 film Kreuz Drei, the one-movement Rhapsody begins with a slow and dissonant introduction that, according to Eisler, evokes “the shattered houses and shattered people, from which we must rise… and build something new.” The tuneful soprano solo emerges from the chaos of the opening and quickly moves through the entire Goethe text. A lengthy instrumental Allegro section follows, developing themes from the introduction. The Rhapsody concludes with a reprise of the work’s central theme: “Doch erfrischet neue Lieder/ Steht nicht länger tiefgebeugt” (“But new songs will refresh them/No longer bow them to the floor”).

During Warsaw’s Goethe celebrations in October 1949, poet and future Minister of Culture Johannes R. Becher showed Eisler his recently completed text to the East German national anthem and asked if he would compose a melody. Eisler finished writing the music in a matter of days, and the new national anthem had its premiere in the Berlin Staatsoper on November 7, 1949—the 32nd anniversary of the November Revolution in Russia. Auferstanden aus Ruinen avoids the triumphant, militaristic character common in Soviet anthems. Becher’s text focuses on universal themes of peace, brotherhood, and renewal, while Eisler’s setting is simple and folklike. Becher had hoped that Auferstanden aus Ruinen could serve as an anthem for all of Germany; his repeated references to “Deutschland” and the line “Deutschland, einig Vaterland” (“Germany, our Fatherland”) attest to his hopes for German reunification. But by the early 1970s, as the two Germanys normalized diplomatic relations and each state entered the United Nations, Becher’s references to united Germany no longer fit the political reality. From that point until the collapse of the GDR, the anthem was only performed in an instrumental arrangement.

Rudolf Wagner-Régeny, Mythological Figures

By Laura Silverberg, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, Columbia University

Written for the concert Music of the Other Germany, performed on Jan 25, 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

Rudolf Wagner-Régeny (1903–1969) had no strong socialist sympathies and composed little explicitly political music. While his contemporaries Eisler and Dessau voluntarily made their homes in East Germany, Wagner-Régeny’s residence in the GDR resulted from historical circumstance and professional opportunity rather than political conviction. Although he never joined the Nazi party, Wagner-Régeny enjoyed a successful career during the years of National Socialist rule, even accepting an offer to compose new incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream to replace that by Felix Mendelssohn. He was living in the East German city of Mecklenburg at the end of the war, joined the faculty of the East Berlin Musikhochschule in 1949, and was admitted to the East Berlin Akademie der Künste.

Wagner-Régeny’s most significant contributions to East German musical life were pedagogical: nearly all prominent composers of the postwar generation, including Siegfried Matthus, Friedrich Goldmann, Paul-Heinz Dittrich, Reiner Bredemeyer, and Georg Katzer studied with Wagner-Régeny at either the Musichochschule or the Akademie der Künste. When East German cultural bureaucrats and leaders of the Composers’ Union branded the twelve-tone technique as a “formalist” manifestation of western decadence, Wagner-Régeny offered East German students their first lessons in the method. But Wagner-Régeny’s progressive and inspired teaching did not consistently carry into his compositions, which often sound dry and pedantic compared to the music of his students and contemporaries. Paul Dessau once quipped that a sign should hang over Wagner-Régeny’s door reading: “Music, do not come too close!”

Written in 1951, Wagner-Régeny’s Mythological Figures stands apart from his more academic compositions. Although twelve-tone in construction, its clear texture, prominent and memorable melodies, traditional forms, and avoidance of prolonged dissonance result in a work that sounds freshly modern, but not stereotypically twelve-tone. Named for the Italian goddess of the harvest, the first movement, Ceres, takes on an ABA form, in which motivically rich and rhythmically active sections surround a calmer, chorale-like interlude. Borrowing a technique developed by his contemporary Boris Blacher, Wagner-Régeny deployed variable meters in this movement, giving the music a sense of rhythmic drive and unpredictability. The slow second movement, Amphitrite (Greek queen of the sea and wife of Poseidon) consists of three varied statements of a melody based on the twelve-note row, which first appears in the horn and cello, then the oboe and horn, and finally in the trumpet and oboe. The string accompaniment is also derived from the row, but the widely-spaced chords prevent the music from sounding too dissonant. Named for the goddess of nature and fertility, the final movement Diana returns to variable meters and offers a rollicking march with a recurring, dotted-rhythm melody.

After its January 1952 premiere in East Berlin, Mythological Figures quickly disappeared from the East German musical landscape. Until the early 1960s, the GDR had little place for modernist dodecaphony, and few East German publications mention the work. Yet for western critics, Mythological Figures was not modern enough. After hearing the work at the International Society for Contemporary Music festival in Salzburg in August 1952, Karl Wörner dismissed it as “only light music employing some modern techniques.” Now over half a century old, Wagner-Régeny’s approach to the twelve-tone method demonstrates that postwar composers could find a middle ground between popular accessibility and modernist abstraction.

Paul Dessau, In Memoriam Bertolt Brecht

By Laura Silverberg, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, Columbia University

Written for the concert Music of the Other Germany, performed on Jan 25, 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

Along with his contemporary Hanns Eisler, Paul Dessau (1894–1979) was one of East Germany’s most prominent composers. The grandson of a Jewish cantor, Dessau fled Germany when the Nazis came to power, living in Paris before moving to New York and later California. Dessau’s first meeting with Bertolt Brecht in 1943 led to over a decade and a half of collaboration that produced numerous songs, incidental music to Brecht’s plays, two operas, and the cantata Deutsche Miserere. After settling in East Berlin in 1948, Dessau worked with Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble. The poet and playwright played a hugely influential role in Dessau’s political and artistic development. Like Brecht, Dessau strove to develop a new, socially engaged art that maintained a critical relationship to bourgeois models and had relevance for contemporary social conditions.

Despite Dessau’s socialist convictions and party membership, he endured frequent party criticism for his modernist musical inclinations. In particular, his opera Die Verurteilung des Lukullus—another Brecht collaboration—came under fire in 1951 for its “formalist” (i.e. modernist) musical language. Dessau’s musical language became more acceptable following a general thaw in the cultural climate after 1956, and Dessau played a critical role as a teacher, mentor, and advocate to the next generation of East German composers. Musicologist Frank Schneider once described Dessau’s home in Zeuthen as an “East Darmstadt”—i.e., an East German substitute for the West German music festival in Darmstadt—where younger composers could discuss taboo contemporary music from the West.

Following Brecht’s death in August 1956, Dessau occupied himself with two compositions inspired by his friend and colleague: an opera based on Brecht’s play Puntila and In memoriam Bertolt Brecht, the work on tonight’s program. Dessau conducted the premiere on February 10, 1958—Brecht’s sixtieth birthday.

In memoriam Bertolt Brecht takes on a loose ABA form and consists of three movements: a slow introduction (“Lamento”), a march, and a slow epitaph. Compared to contemporaneous works in the GDR and even Dessau’s own music from the 1950s, the outer movements of In Memoriam Bertolt Brecht sound audaciously modern for their extreme dissonance, lack of melody, and development of motivic fragments (including the BACH motive, based on the German spelling of B-flat, A, C, and B-natural). The interval of a falling half step, characteristic of laments for centuries, dominates the motivic framework.

The formal and conceptual core of In memoriam Bertolt Brecht is the march. Its subtitle, “Der Krieg soll verflucht sein” (“War should be cursed”), comes from Brecht’s play Mother Courage and her Children, and in 1946 Dessau had supplied Brecht with the play’s incidental music. While a chaotic web of motives appears in the piccolo, horns, and percussion, the trumpets perform Mother Courage’s song from the play’s first act. The song itself is emblematic of the collaboration between writer and composer: the melody originated in Brecht’s own Ballade of the Sea Robbers, which Brecht requested that Dessau reuse in Mother Courage. Through this act of quotation, Dessau’s musical memorial pays tribute not only to Brecht’s creative output, not only to his anti-fascist political convictions, but also to his artistic methods. By combining the well-known song from Mother Courage with jagged rhythms and strident harmonies of the mid-twentieth century, Dessau translated Brecht’s technique of Verfremdung, or alienation, into musical terms. Rather than offer the audience a simple reiteration of the well-known song, In memoriam Bertolt Brecht prompts the listener to consider Brecht’s political and artistic contributions anew.

Udo Zimmermann, Sinfonia come un grande Lamento, in Memory of F. García Lorca

By Laura Silverberg, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, Columbia University

Written for the concert Music of the Other Germany, performed on Jan 25, 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

In 1971, Erich Honecker (General Secretary of the ruling Socialist Unity Party) declared that “there can be no taboos in the realm of art and literature” if one works from a socialist position. By the mid-1970s, modernist techniques such as serialism and indeterminacy rarely drew the critical ire that they had in previous decades. East German composers were less isolated from musical developments in other lands, and a new generation of talented young composers—including Friedrich Goldmann, Reiner Bredemeyer, Georg Katzer, Friedrich Schenker, Siegfried Matthus, Paul-Heinz Dittrich, and Udo Zimmermann—gained international recognition.

Both the music and career path of Udo Zimmermann (1943– ) exemplify the experience of the second generation of East German composers, who completed their musical training during the 1960s. Counting Henze, Lutosławski, and Boulez among his greatest influences, Zimmermann was one of very few East German composers to win acclaim on both sides of the Iron Curtain. As founder and director of the Studio Neue Musik in Dresden, he brought to the GDR some of the first performances of music by Cage, Kagel, Xenakis, and Stockhausen. Zimmermann is best known for his work in the dramatic realm: he composed six successful operas, served as dramatic advisor at the Dresdner Staatsoper and, following German reunification, was director of the Leipzig Opera and later Berlin’s Deutsche Oper.

Zimmermann’s interest in the dramaturgical capabilities of music extended beyond opera; even his instrumental music typically carries a dramatic or textual reference. His Sinfonia come un grande Lamento, in memory of the Spanish poet Fernando García Lorca, takes as a starting point Lorca’s poem “Casida del Llanto,” or “Casida of the Weeping,” from the collection El divan del Tamarit:

I’ve closed my balcony

because I don’t want to hear the weeping,

but from behind the gray walls

nothing else is heard but the weeping.

There are very few angels that sing,

there are very few dogs that bark,

a thousand violins fit into the palm of my hand.

But the weeping is an immense dog,

the weeping is an immense angel,

the weeping is an immense violin,

the tears muffle the wind,

and nothing else is heard but the weeping.

(translation: Paul C. Echols)

According to Zimmermann, the Sinfonia uses Lorca’s poem as a source of inspiration, but does not follow the text in a programmatic manner. In the most general sense, the work is a lament for the dead. More specifically, it is an epitaph for Lorca himself, who was murdered by Franco’s fascists during the Spanish Civil War.

Divided into three movements, Antiphon I – Psalm – Antiphon II, the Sinfonia opens with a lengthy timpani cadenza built from a seven-note row. The cadenza gives way to an alternation between a march-like timpani theme and an adagio lament melody in the strings. This melody, built from the inversion of the introductory chorus of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, becomes the basis of the Psalm. Beginning with the flute, the lament melody builds up to a climactic semi-aleatoric layering of all 52 instruments. The second Antiphon returns to the material of the first; an alternation between the march-like timpani motive and the lament melody grows to a climax before a minute-long diminuendo on a unison note. Writing on the Sinfonia a few years after its premiere, Zimmermann noted that this final gesture acts like a photograph, freezing “the feeling of unspeakable sadness as the limit of human suffering.”

Siegfried Matthus, Responso: Konzert für Orchester

By Byron Adams, University of California, Riverside

Written for the concert Music of the Other Germany, performed on Jan 25, 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

The distinguished German composer Siegfried Matthus was born in 1934 in what was then East Prussia. In 1944, fleeing the advancing Russian army, the composer’s family fatefully stopped just one day’s journey short of what would become the West German border. Thus Matthus attended the Hochschule für Musik in East Berlin, where his teachers included Rudolf Wagner-Régeny and Hanns Eisler. (Matthus has hinted that he was not in complete sympathy with Eisler: “I’m just sorry that I had too many complexes when I was a young man to take full advantage of this great teacher.”) The gifted young composer soon assumed the post of composer-in-residence to the Komische Oper Berlin; later, Matthus attracted the attention of Kurt Masur, who became an ardent champion of his music.

One of Matthus’s most celebrated scores is his Responso: Konzert für Orchester, which was premiered on October 27, 1977 by the Dresden Staatskapelle conducted by Herbert Blomstedt. (In Latin, “responso” can mean either an answer or a re-echo.) In this powerful concerto for orchestra, Matthus eschewed abstruse avant-garde aesthetics, reaching out to listeners by erecting a bridge between the past and the present. By using stylistic allusions to past masters and reveling in eclecticism for its own sake, Matthus has created a successful work that can justly be described as “postmodern.”

Near the end of The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot writes “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.” Like Eliot, Matthus assembled a series of stylistic fragments. Matthus drew from a variety of composers, including Stravinsky and J.S. Bach. But, while the modernist poet used stark juxtapositions to create meaning in The Waste Land, the postmodern composer weaves his materials together into a symphonic canvas in which the various references provide both continuity and expressivity.

The first movement, “Ostinato,” commences with an unmistakable reference to the “Danse sacrale” from Stravinksky’s Le sacre du printemps. Unlike Stravinsky’s apocalyptic final cadence, however, “Ostinato” does not end with a wild shriek, but with three low notes played by the contrabassoon. (To quote Eliot, “This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.”) The second movement, “Notturno,” is a tenebrous scherzo that pays ironic homage to the fey woodwinds of Mendelssohn’s Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” as well as to the sonorous horns that pervade Weber’s Der Freischütz. The concerto’s expressive core is surely the Mahlerian adagio, which contains the only actual quotation in the entire score, drawn from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, at the words, “. . .und ging hinaus und weinete bitterlich” (“ . . . and went out and wept bitterly”). The finale of Responso is, like Brahms’s Fourth Symphony, a “Ciacona,” consisting of twenty variations upon a repeated ground bass that builds from a quiet beginning to a shattering conclusion.

In a gesture that can only be described as “meta,” Matthus later adapted music drawn from his own postmodern Concerto for Orchestra to create a score for violoncello and orchestra, Adagio and Passacaglia on motifs from “Responso” (1982). Thus Matthus responds to his own response to the past in the same fashion in which he had responded to the past in the first place.