Beethoven and more podcast #5: Fragments of poetry and silence | Beethovenfest | DW | 30.09.2010
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Beethoven and more podcast #5: Fragments of poetry and silence

In this second of a total six string quartets, Peter Ruzicka composed a requiem for the poet Paul Celan.

Poet Paul Celan (1920-1970)

Poet Paul Celan (1920-1970)

Peter Ruzicka (1948-)

…FRAGMENT… Five Epigrams for two violins, viola und cello (String Quartet No. 2)

I. Molto calmo, statico

II. Eccitato

III. Sfasciarsi

IV. Movimentato

V. Indistinto

Minguet Quartet
MP3 recorded at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn on September 19, 2010 by Deutsche Welle (DW)

Peter Ruzicka is primarily known as a music manager, having headed the famous Salzburg Festival for several years. But he is also a conductor and widely acclaimed composer. The 2010 Beethovenfest honored the 62-year-old with four evenings of concerts.

Ruzicka's 40-year career as a composer produced six string quartets that form a musical cycle. Ruzicka wrote the second quartet in the series, titled "Fragment," at age 22. Taking two days to complete, the piece consists of eight minutes of music, including junctures of silence that play a central role in the composition.

The young composer discovered poet Paul Celan in 1970, the same year in which he completed the quartet. A central theme in Celan's poetry is the Holocaust. Not long before Celan's death by suicide, Ruzicka had the chance to meet him personally in Paris. It was later revealed that the last book read by Celan had been a biography of Friedrich Hoelderlin. "The connection of the two," says Ruzicka, "is a continuous line… It's a matter of extremely sensitive tracks that reflect life."

The expressive power and precision of Celan's language serve as an ideal and model for Ruzicka's chamber music. The string quartet named "Fragment" is a requiem for the poet, whom Ruzicka quotes in the preface to the score:

"…but we were unable
to extend our darkness to you:

reigned by

the compulsion of light."

Author: Gudrun Heise (rf)
Editor: Greg Wiser

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