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Work of the Week – Peter Eötvös: Reading Malevich

The world premiere of Peter Eötvös’ orchestral work Reading Malevich will take place on 1 September 2018 at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, with Matthias Pintscher conducting the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra. The work was commissioned by Roche Commissions, which is a unique cultural program formed by the healthcare company Roche, the Lucerne Festival and the Lucerne Festival Academy.

The Roche Commissions initiative aims to encourage the composition of musical works that arise from challenging intellectual stimulation, and encourages composers to venture beyond the conventional. For Reading Malevich Eötvös decided to depict Kazimir Malevich’s painting Suprematism No. 56 through music, using the painting as inspiration for the form, density, timbre and structure of his composition.

Peter Eötvös – Reading Malevich: Horizontal & Vertical

Reading Malevich is comprised of two movements titled Horizontal and Vertical, in reference to the angles a spectator would observe in Malevich’s painting. Within these two parts, Eötvös employs specific tone pitches and lengths to correspond with the colours of the painting, and uses the intervals between these pitches to depict the distances between objects in the painting and their proportions. In addition, individual passages within each of the movements refer to prominent visual elements in Malevich’s painting such as ‘The Brown Rectangle’, or ‘The Pale Yellow Shadow Before The Red Rectangle’.

 “With this composition I encountered challenges that I would never have found myself. I was often left searching for a solution, sometimes for weeks. Then, I would realise all over again that the structural planning of this composition was ‘picturesque’ and free.” – Peter Eötvös 

Another of Eötvös’ orchestral works, Per Luciano Berio, will receive its world premiere this week on 29 August 2018 at the Semperoper Dresden, where Peter Eötvös will be Composer in Residence for the new season.


© photo: Marco Borggreve