Sunday, 12 May 2013

Writing - Beauty from Inhumanity

I was reminded of some beautiful music this morning. Composing, rather like writing, is an artistic and emotional response to a variety of situations. For instance, lullabies, laments, firework music and so on. The piece highlighted below is based on Tippet's reaction to real events that occurred during the 2nd World War.

A Child of Our Time is a secular oratorio by the British composer Michael Tippett (1905–1998), who also wrote the libretto. Composed between 1939 and 1941, it was first performed at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 19 March 1944. The work was inspired by events that affected Tippett profoundly: the assassination in 1938 of a German diplomat by a young Jewish refugee, and the Nazi government's reaction in the form of a vicious pogrom against its Jewish population—the so-called Kristallnacht. Tippett's oratorio deals with these incidents in the context of the experiences of oppressed people generally, and carries a strongly pacifist message of ultimate understanding and reconciliation. The text's recurrent themes of shadow and light reflect the Jungian psychoanalysis which Tippett underwent in the years immediately before writing the work.

Baba Yar

Babi Yar  is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union.
The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place on September 29–30, 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation.

 Dimitri Shostakovich
The Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor (subtitled Babi Yar) by Dmitri Shostakovich was first performed in Moscow on 18 December 1962 by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and the basses of the Republican State and Gnessin Institute Choirs, under Kirill Kondrashin (after Yevgeny Mravinsky refused to conduct the work). This work has been variously called a song cycle and a choral symphony since the composer included settings of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko that concerned the World War II Babi Yar massacre and other topics. The five poems Shostakovich set to music are earthily vernacular and cover every aspect of Soviet life.
Another example of music being used to explore the depths of human depravity but on this occasion combined with poetry. I know poetry is not the most popular medium in writing from the readers perspective but it seems to be the medium of choice when people need to express feelings about extreme events and is often then backed up with music. I am fortunate in being with a choir that becomes involved in performing such pieces and have sung in 'Child of Our Time' which was a very moving experience. Once again the men in the choir will be singing the Shostakovich in September with Liverpool Philharmonic, conducted by Vasily 

Petrenko,  which will then be recorded on CD. 

My point is that poetry is a powerful medium for expressing feelings in the written form. I know that when there is something bothering me the need to write poetically is heightened but that may be because as a typical man expressing feelings was never my strong point. I have never aspired to write poetry for financial reward although I have published one collection, The Musings of a Confused Mind (, but it would be amazing to write something that a third party set to music. Really what I'm saying is if you feel the need then write.

God Bless