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Abbreviations (PDF)




World Premiere
Musikverein, Wien
Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien / Oksana Lyniv
Programme Note

Signature of the time: Sofia Gubaidulina's The Wrath of God

Friedrich Hölderlin, born nine months before Beethoven in 1770, wrote in his letter novel Hyperion around 1797: “But wherever divine nature and its artists are insulted, oh! Life's best pleasure is gone, and every other star is better than that the earth. Desolation, people are becoming more and more desolate, […] the blessing becomes a curse every year, and all gods flee Poet. “The American writer T. S. Eliot once defined culture as religiosity incarnate. I think that's right. Without religiosity, without this connection with this high dimension of life, everything has dried up, ”she emphasized to the German press agency; Compared to the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Without religion, the meaning of life is lost" and: "While I am composing, I pray, no, actually I am talking to God." The work of art would therefore be a protocol, an excerpt from the dialogue with the divine.
Gubaidulina's approach to music and spirituality is based on experiences in early childhood, when for her music “was naturally associated with religion; the sound became something sacred for me ”- and that in the middle of the militant atheistic times of the Soviet Union. She sealed the importance of religiosity for her life and her art with the Orthodox baptism, to which she, the granddaughter of a Tatar imam, familiar with elements of Jewish mysticism, decided in 1970. “The process of composing is my martyrdom, my sacrifice. When I write music, I carry the cross of Jesus Christ. I leave all my strength."
In 2016, in the year of her 85th birthday, she composed the oratorio On Love and Hate based on psalms and ancient prayer texts in several languages, inspired by the peace hymn of Francis of Assisi. The German premiere was given by the Staatskapelle Dresden with the participation of the MDR Choir and a well-known soloist quartet on October 30, 2016 in the Semperoper; Sofia Gubaidulina was “Capell-Compositrice” for the traditional orchestra for the second time after the 2014/15 season. In 2018 she expanded the work from originally nine to 15 movements.
n the third to last position in both versions is the piece The Wrath of God. It forms the basis for the orchestral work of the same name, which the composer completed on February 25, 2019 and dedicated to "the great Beethoven". About a fifth of the new composition - the first 72 bars - are largely taken from the (also purely instrumental) part of the oratorio. The basic material and the essential lines of its development are laid out in them. They will then be performed in the best symphonic tradition. The piece comes to its listeners in two big waves, both begin in the depths of the heavy brass and from there encompass the entire orchestra. Its shape resembles a spiral that expands and is more and more determined by centrifugal forces. The second circuit follows the model of the first for a considerable distance, but gradually takes on stronger dynamics, simplifies some structures (somewhat the simultaneous guidance of the rhythmically sharp main motif in original and mirrored movement) for the sake of compelling panache, condensed, accelerated, rotates in on itself towards the end. The title explains and fulfills itself through the effect of the music, it does not need any descriptive words. The approximately quarter-hour orchestral piece is connected to Beethoven through the high concept of art and the radical consistency that he had in mind for projects in his late work beyond the last string quartets. (Habakuk Traber)

Recommended Recording

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig /
Andris Nelsons
Deutsche Grammophon DG 4861457

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