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Five Expressionist Scenes (2019)

Instrumentation: baritone, piano, double bass, percussion (1 player)

Duration: ca. 16'

First performed: October 28th, 2019 at IU (piano part performed by the composer)

Texts by Gottfried Benn (1886-1956)


I. Kleine Aster

II. Kreislauf

III. Rauhreif

IV. Turin

V. Nachtcafé


Program Note

This cycle is a grateful tribute to German Expressionism, an art movement that has been a tremendous source of inspiration for my music. The instrumentation of the ensemble is intended to convey a cabaret setting, and occasionally takes on the form of a true jazz trio. The poet Gottfried Benn was a physician during World War I, and so many of his poems deal with visceral, medical themes—the first two songs are settings of such poems. The fourth and fifth songs reflect Benn’s nihilism, combining social commentary with the abovementioned visceral themes. At the center of the work is a short poem in Romantic style, written when Benn was eighteen. A short introduction for piano alone sets the tone for the rest of the work.

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