Transfigured Night Illuminated

this post written by Dana Our next concert, Voyage, features a very famous piece by the famous composer Arnold Schoenberg. Verklärte Nacht, or, Transfigured Night. Written for string sextet (2 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos) the piece is based on a poem of the same name by Richard Dehmel.

The poem is quite intimate and powerful, and had a big effect on Schoenberg. So big, it inspired him to write one of his most famous works. After writing the haunting, passionate and beautiful Transfigured Night, Schoenberg turned his music, and the world of music, on its head by writing some really crazy stuff, notably Pierrot Lunaire, which is being performed this Wednesday by members of The Saint Louis Symphony at The Pulitzer if you're interested.

But back to Transfigured Night. As you might know, we've been creating art posters for each of our concerts this year, and I felt that this poem had such rich imagery I really wanted an artist to do something with it, and luckily, I had just recently met a wonderful artist - Holly Gollwitzer-Gregg. I pitched it to her and she said yes! Here is the result!

Preview of “Voyage Poster”

It might seem rather mysterious if you haven't read the poem - which is what we were looking for. This poem has really stuck to me. It has everything- the just slightly taboo subject, the fear, the courage, the love and acceptance. Holly captures THE MOMENT of the poem so beautifully. You can see more of her work (she's also an incredible Decorative Painter) on her site:

Here is the poem, courtesy of Wikipedia, where you can learn more about the music too if you'd like. There are also some fantastic YouTube videos of it. This one gives a moment by moment description of how the music and the text fit together.

Zwei Menschen gehn durch kahlen, kalten Hain; der Mond läuft mit, sie schaun hinein. Der Mond läuft über hohe Eichen; kein Wölkchen trübt das Himmelslicht, in das die schwarzen Zacken reichen. Die Stimme eines Weibes spricht: Two people are walking through a bare, cold wood; the moon keeps pace with them and draws their gaze. The moon moves along above tall oak trees, there is no wisp of cloud to obscure the radiance to which the black, jagged tips reach up. A woman’s voice speaks:
„Ich trag ein Kind, und nit von Dir, ich geh in Sünde neben Dir. Ich hab mich schwer an mir vergangen. Ich glaubte nicht mehr an ein Glück und hatte doch ein schwer Verlangen nach Lebensinhalt, nach Mutterglück “I am carrying a child, and not by you. I am walking here with you in a state of sin. I have offended grievously against myself. I despaired of happiness, and yet I still felt a grievous longing for life’s fullness, for a mother’s joys
und Pflicht; da hab ich mich erfrecht, da ließ ich schaudernd mein Geschlecht von einem fremden Mann umfangen, und hab mich noch dafür gesegnet. Nun hat das Leben sich gerächt: nun bin ich Dir, o Dir, begegnet.“ and duties; and so I sinned, and so I yielded, shuddering, my sex to the embrace of a stranger, and even thought myself blessed. Now life has taken its revenge, and I have met you, met you.”
Sie geht mit ungelenkem Schritt. Sie schaut empor; der Mond läuft mit. Ihr dunkler Blick ertrinkt in Licht. Die Stimme eines Mannes spricht: She walks on, stumbling. She looks up; the moon keeps pace. Her dark gaze drowns in light. A man’s voice speaks:
„Das Kind, das Du empfangen hast, sei Deiner Seele keine Last, o sieh, wie klar das Weltall schimmert! Es ist ein Glanz um alles her; Du treibst mit mir auf kaltem Meer, doch eine eigne Wärme flimmert von Dir in mich, von mir in Dich. “Do not let the child you have conceived be a burden on your soul. Look, how brightly the universe shines! Splendour falls on everything around, you are voyaging with me on a cold sea, but there is the glow of an inner warmth from you in me, from me in you.
Die wird das fremde Kind verklären, Du wirst es mir, von mir gebären; Du hast den Glanz in mich gebracht, Du hast mich selbst zum Kind gemacht.“ Er faßt sie um die starken Hüften. Ihr Atem küßt sich in den Lüften. Zwei Menschen gehn durch hohe, helle Nacht. That warmth will transfigure the stranger’s child, and you bear it me, begot by me. You have transfused me with splendour, you have made a child of me.” He puts an arm about her strong hips. Their breath embraces in the air. Two people walk on through the high, bright night.

(English translation by Mary Whittall)

FEB 22, 7:00pm at The Saint Louis Art Museum Art After 5 series.Call 314-721-0072 to reserve your free tickets.

MARCH 1, 8:00pm at The Chapel Venue. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Includes 2 drinks. Click here for advance ticket purchase.

Full Program PIAZZOLLA            L’histoire du Tango BERMEL                Soul Garden SCHOENBERG     Transfigured Night

Stay tuned, we're going to have Voyage stories from our musicians in the next post!