Project - Le Mouton Enragè (The Angry Sheep)

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2002)
Based on the film of the same name, France 1973, with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider
First performed on 27th of July 2002, Große Aula of the TU ? Munich
David Danzmayr: Conductor; Wolfgang Zamastil: Violoncello, Symphonic Ensemble München
Stream - Cellokonzert DSL (1.44 MB) ISDN (741 KB) Modem (232 KB)

A boring bank clerk decides, prompted and guided by his best friend, to change his life : specifically, to get as much money and to sleep with as many women as is humanly possible. Practicing day by day at overcoming his own inhibitions ? by the method, specifically, of doing, every day, something he`s not been in the habit of doing ? he succeeds together with his friend, an unsuccessful writer, in developing a system of ?sleeping one`s way to the top?. The plan succeeds perfectly and he himself becomes ever more cold-blooded and calculating. The films ends in several deaths and several more casualties on the psychological level ; the hero has taken it all too far.

The idea of doing each day something that I`m not used to doing is one that greatly appealed to me. No small element of this appeal lay in the thought of getting to know one`s limits better and of learning how better to transcend these limits. Only, one should not, like the hero of the film, take this process too far. This, I believe, is referred to as ?going mad?.
The unusual and unaccustomed has always served to broaden things out, to bring ideas to realization, be this in the sphere of politics, the sphere of art, or elsewhere.

What is unusual about the cello concerto Le Mouton Enrage could probably be summed up by saying that, here, an enormous number of different musical styles encounter and collide with one another. I made use here of so many and such various musical styles that I was myself, at the end of the compositional process, hardly able any longer to grasp what I`d done in its totality and had begun to ask myself whether this work had indeed turned out too fragmentary and episodic, too lacking in internal unity and homogeneity, to count as a ?work? at all. As I remarked to the composer Isabel Mundry in a telephone conversation : ?One has in the end to be able to explain what one has done.? Her reply, however, I found instructive and refreshing : ?To whom does one have to be able to explain it?? If this question is a valid one, then one is free to compose as one will. Besides, it is in any case not true that this piece is entirely without a unifying theme.

The reproach that my music is too simple, not sufficiently intellectual, is one that has often been made to me. I find it to be a ridiculous, a positively pitiable sort of criticism. As if these people who take it upon themselves to pass judgement on works of art had themselves any idea of what ?has value? and what has not. Why can one not simply listen and see what happens? More happens, in fact, than one thinks.
In this piece, we find grotesque parodies of waltzes, hommages to Shostakowitsch and Piazolla, folk songs from Greece, a heap of film music, a crazy tango, a mournful funeral march and, in between all this, various brief allusions to themes of particular artistic or political importance to me.

It remains basically true, however, that this piece relies for its foundation on no ?deep philosophical meaning?. Which is not to say that this question - where art ends and where philosophy begins and whether the two can ever be reconciled with one another - is not a highly discussable and controversial one.

I have met philosophers who know so much and who have meditated on everything so deeply that they are in a position to offer for every argument they make a valid counter-argument. This is surely very admirable, but imagine what would happen if such a person were to begin to become active as an artist. The work of art which emerges is one, indeed, which is nourished by enormous effort of thought ; the philosophical truth being aimed at, however, tends to become hidden and lost in the tensions obtaining between the different truths.
There is, of course, much to be said also for this. I, however, must always ask myself why it has never been possible for me to construct a composition in this way ? that is, directly upon the foundation of an idea arrived at by sheer intellectual effort, in a manner we are familar with ? or believe ourselves to be familiar with - from the work of such undoubtedly great artists as, for example, Berg, Wagner, Thomas Bernhard or Thomas Mann. Nor can I deny that I believe I know an answer to this question. The reputation of the great artists I have just mentioned ? that, namely, of having sat down to the act of literary or musical composition with a fixed and fully developed conception of the idea which their work should ?bring to expression? and of having maintained this idea intact and unaltered from beginning to end of the creative process ? is surely completely ?undeserved?. That is to say, anyone who really knows their work sees that they ?deserve? in fact much better than this.

The real beauties of all the oeuvres in question surely lie far more in the details which are not to be neatly classified under the pre-conceived and allegedly all-encompassing ?basic idea? and these details, I am sure were never clearly foreseen by the artists already at the stage of intellectual ?planning?. They were achievable in all their beauty only to the artist who, in Picasso`s image, had had the courage actually ?to begin to make? without knowing clearly and once and for all just what he was making.

The artist who lacks this courage and clings to the illusory idea of knowing just what he is going to do before he does it runs the serious risk of killing his artwork before it is born, of ?thinking it to death?. Even among the very greatest artists we see this problem emerge and where it does not lead to the total extinction of the artwork it can lead to the barely less unfortunate effect of cheap ?emergency solutions? : the artist recognizes himself the danger of the work being ?swallowed up? by the ?idea? and tries artificially to limit its complexity, so that an unhappy compromises emerges that is ?neither fish nor fowl?.

For this reason, I prefer to try to learn always by myself, without pre-conceived ideas, to meditate freely on what I am doing and always to balance out the imperatives issuing from the ?head? with those coming from the ?belly?.