Music Musicology Poetry Gallery

Structure VII
Utrecht Series
1974; 16:02 min.


Structure VII is a requiem for the victims of World War II, as well as an homage to my father who miraculously survived the Russian Gulag in the years 1945 and 1947. He who suffered between Minsk and Moghilev for seven years returns to me forever in this piece, a musical commentary on his 1948 memoir "War and Prison Camp".

The work is a piece of musique concrète in three through-composed movements. It unfolds an initially undifferentiated and noisy sound flow into increasingly differentiated voice textures that challenge personal anonymity. At the high point of the first movement, a clear female voice emerges that, in the second movement, enters into counterpoint with an equally broken male voice. The contrapuntal exchange between female and male voices transforms itself, in the third movement, into a chorus of victims whose speech- and song-like utterances are in an unknown language close to the sound of Russian. Their lament ends in release that turns the harsh sound sculpture of much of the piece into something intimating forgiveness. The subject matter is in perfect balance with the textures the piece comprises.

Materials for the work were derived from the voices of my friend, bass-baritone Kenneth Thompson, and soprano Margaret A. Laske, then my wife. The work was produced in the Studio of the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Performances include: University of Pittsburgh (1975), Groupe de Musique Experimentale de Bourges (1976), University of Illinois, Urbana (1977), Belgian Radio, Ghent, Belgium (1978), Stichting Combinatie van Utrechtse Muziekbelangen, Utrecht (1978), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1978), and New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, MA (1979).