Friedrich Hölderlin’s famous poem Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) has inspired many composers to create musical settings of the text. Among them is Dieter Schnebel, whose last composition Schicksalslied for speaker, alto voice, chamber choir, chamber ensemble and tape will receive its world premiere on 21 September at the Beethovenfest Bonn. The performance will be given by the Prague Philharmonic Choir and the Symphony Orchestra Flandern conducted by Jan Latham-Koenig, with Franz Mazura and alto Markéta Cukrová as soloists.
Schicksalslied was commissioned by the Beethovenfest Bonn for their 2018 Festival curated around the concept of ‘fate’. In his work Schnebel draws on Hölderlin’s text, as well as referencing Beethoven and the famous fate motif from the Fifth Symphony, to explore the mechanisms of fate in an optimistic and at times playful manner.
Dieter Schnebel – Schicksalslied: Between Hölderlin and Beethoven
Schicksalslied begins with the speaker reciting Beethoven’s own description of his fate motif (‘thus fate knocks at the door’) followed by the beginning of the Fifth Symphony played on tape, over which the choir chants the word “fate” in different languages. Throughout the piece Schnebel employs the human voice in a unique variety of ways from blowing to noisy coughing, and Friedrich Hölderlin’s verses are alternated with quotations from other works by Beethoven such as the Appassionata and String Quartet No.16. In one of his final interviews Schnebel stated:
“Music is a medium, in which feelings play an important role. Music can express delight like no other kind of Art, but also abysmal sorrow. Death is one extreme, overflowing life the other, and in between there are thousands of possibilities.” – Dieter Schnebel
In Frankfurt, Schnebel’s Variationen über das Heidenröslein for voice and ensemble received its world premiere last week on 11 September, and a further version for voice and chamber orchestra will be premiered on 9 November together with Schnebel’s Trauermusik.