Monday, December 7, 2009

Letter Writing Concerto

I'm sure a lot of people listen to music while they write letters, and we've even discussed on this blog songs about letters, but did you know that you could listen to a four-movement concerto for violin and orchestra that is titled "The Lost Art of Letter Writing"?

About a year ago, Australian composer Brett Dean won the 2009 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for the work, which was commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra for violinist Frank Peter Zimmerman, was chosen for the prize from among 145 entries worldwide.

According to the information released about the concerto, each movement in the half-hour concerto is based on a 19th-century letter, with a violin evoking the mood of each letter as it plays the alternate roles of writer and recipient. Authors of the letters include composers Johannes Brahms and Hugo Wolf, artist Vincent Van Gogh and Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

You can read more about the concerto at the Boosey & Hawkes Web site, and you can listen to a sample of the music here.

From the Boosey & Hawkes' site, here are some of the composer's notes:

Not only is letter writing becoming a lost art, but one could argue that handwriting itself is an endangered skill. Aspects of my daughters’ education, in particular its heavy reliance on electronic stimuli, have reinforced my view that we are genuinely losing touch with the tactile element of written communication. A recent article in an Australian newspaper points out that the proportion of personal letters amongst the total number of sent articles handled by the national postal authority, Australia Post, has declined from 50% in 1960 to 13% nowadays. Sure, we stay in touch arguably more than ever, via telephone, email and messaging, but that too has undoubtedly changed the nature of communicating.
These were then the initiating thoughts behind my Violin Concerto, ‘The Lost Art of Letter Writing’, co-commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie and the Stockholm Philharmonic for the esteemed soloist Frank Peter Zimmermann, to whom the work is dedicated with my great admiration. Each movement is prefaced by an excerpt from a 19th Century letter of one kind or another, ranging from private love-letter to public manifesto. Each title refers to the place and year the letter was written. The violin plays the alternate roles of both an author and a recipient of letters, but perhaps more importantly, the solo part conjures something of the mood of each of the different letters.

Indeed, this news came out about a year ago, and if you read Wendy's A Passion for Letter Writing blog, you might have read about Brett Dean and this concerto earlier this year, but it's an interesting piece, so I think it bears mentioning again.

1 comment:

phonelady said...

yes it does write letters people . You should see the post office these days extremely busy .

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