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Music

Bridging boundaries in the mind

The city of Cologne has seven bridges spanning the Rhine River - and an eighth that creates access to music of the 20th and 21st centuries in the form of this festival.

Listen to audio 54:59

Concert Hour: Eight Bridges Festival, part 1

"Music and Faith" was the motto of the most recent Eight Bridges festival in Cologne in May 2016, which dealt with spirituality in the widest sense.

Zen philosophy inspired the first piece this hour, written by the late British composer Jonathan Harvey, a faithful practitioner of meditation. 

Our second composer, Friedrich Goldmann, lived in former East Germany. In 1975, he wrote a piece with religious overtones and titled it De profundis (Out of the depths I cry to you…). Triggered by his despair over being inducted into military service, it projects an imaginary depiction of freedom. 

"The Unanswered Question" by American composer Charles Ives points to questions of existence. The piece is short and simply structured: over a gentle bed of sounds from the strings onstage comes the call of the trumpet, placed offstage and seemingly asking a question. Four flutes, also offstage, repeatedly seek to provide an answer, growing more passionate and desperate each time. The trumpet poses the question one final time - and that's the end of the piece. 

Composer Charles Ives (1874-1954) (picture-alliance / KPA / TopFoto)

Charles Ives' 'Unanswered Question' is bafflingly simple - and simply baffling


Jonathan Harvey 
Tranquil Abiding (1998)  

Friedrich Goldmann 
De profundis (Out of the Depths, 1975)  

Charles Ives
The Unanswered Question (1908)

West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne
Michael Wendeberg, conductor  

Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in Cologne Philharmonie on May 7, 2016

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