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Bernd Alois Zimmermann: “Preludio”

From the opera Die Soldaten (The Soldiers, 1965)

The German Bernd Alois Zimmermann is one of the most underappreciated composers among the so-called “post-war avant-garde” in Europe.  In the 1950s and 60s he developed a highly idiosyncratic compositional style that synthesized rigorous serial technique with quotations from jazz, classical, and popular music.

Zimmermann began work on his magnum opus, the opera Die Soldaten, in 1957; after being labelled “unperformable” due to its incredible musical and dramaturgical complexity, it was finally premiered in 1965 after undergoing numerous revisions.  Inspired by St. Augustine's philosophy of time, Zimmermann conceived of a scenario in which action takes place simultaneously on three different stages.  The score also calls for multiple loudspeakers and film projectors, making productions of the work exceedingly rare.

Essentially an overture to the opera, the “Preludio,” with its cacophonous brass swells and insistant, minatory (and unnervingly irregular) tympani pulse, powerfully condenses the nightmarish violence of the plot.


Played 151 time(s).

June 12, 2009, 5:30pm

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