29. March 2021

Critiques & Ironies


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Saed HaddadCritiques & Ironies (2019)
8 short pieces for piano

Benjamin Kobler, piano
Janet Sinica, video
Jan Böyng, editing
Julius Gass, sound direction

1. Tombeau | 2. Intermezzo I | 3. Dark Clowning | 4. Intermezzo II | 5. Arabesque | 6. Elegy | 7. Perpetuum mobile | 8. Abyss

These short pieces were composed in response to the generous commission of the Köln Philharmonie (KölnMusik) in context of the Non-Beethoven-Project 2020. I was given a collection of phrases which were communicated to Beethoven; however, Beethoven’s response to these phrases is unknown to us. I was asked to compose a piece inspired by Beethoven’s possible answer or commentary without quoting neither imitating Beethoven’s style(s).

The two phrases told to Beethoven and which my piano pieces comment on:

  1. „Wir proben immer nur Ihre Quartetten; die Haydnschen u. Mozartschen nicht, sie gehen ohne Probe besser“
  2. „Die Welt hat ihre Unschuld verloren und ohne Unschuld schafft und genießt man kein Kunstwerk. Die Lösung unserer Tage ist Kritik…“

The first phrase touches on the satire and the ironic; irony can be found in many of Beethoven’s compositions (as well as in my own). In fact, irony is a sort of contradiction: it is something which looks/sounds serious, yet which has another face which laughs or smiles. Furthermore, in the 8 short piano pieces one can notice that a certain focus has been given to the idea of repetition with the intentional pun/irony that ‘répétition’ in French means ‘Probe’.

The second phrase criticizes the artistic scene and offers a possible solution, namely, “Kritik”. I believe –and I would imagine the same if Beethoven were alive- that our present musical scene needs urgently constructive criticism, because it is saturated with many wrong attitudes and conducts (for ex. some musicians are lazy/careless with respect to rehearsals; when a performance is not a world-premiere, nobody invites composers to rehearsals -even when the musicians have never rehearsed with the composer in question-; most people prefer silence and political correctness (i.e. compromising in saying what they really think) over a critical polite enriching discussion). These wrong attitudes –among others- impoverish our culture by depriving us from cultivating our human spirit/intellect via sharing daring and challenging thoughts with each other.

Saed Haddad