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de Stéphane Mallarmé
Récitation Orchestrale
Edition: Matériel d'exécution

Détails du produit


Early in the morning, Hérodiade’s nurse looks out of the open window of a lonely tower in which the princess is housed and is preparing for her wedding. The impressions of nature force the thoughts of the nurse to circle around the morbid state of her mistress who threatens to fall into a state of despair about the emptiness and senselessness of all human activity. When Hérodiade appears, the nurse greets her cheerfully, but Hérodiade remains locked into her dark and dismal thoughts. She requests her nurse to wash her hair in scented water and pin it up, but then repels this physical contact in horror. Hérodiade dreams in her visions of a man whom she would one day like to marry, but at the same time initially refuses to entertain thoughts of devotion and prefers to remain single; only at the end does she recognise how imprisoned she was in her thoughts.

In 1944, Hindemith received a commission from the American dancer and chorographer Martha Graham to compose ballet music on the theme of a mythological female figure. Instead of the Medea myth favoured by Graham, he selected the figure of Herodias who incites her daughter Salome to express the wish to her stepfather Herod that John the Baptist should be executed. The biblical story provides the framework for the enigmatic and linguistically extremely complex poetic fragment with its wealth of associations of the same name which the French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) had been working on from 1864 up to the time of his death. Hindemith created a setting of Mallarmé’s poem Sainte as a song with piano accompaniment at the same time as the composition of the ballet music. In his ballet music for Hérodiade, Hindemith undertook the attempt to ‘blend poetic ideas, lyrical expression and music into a unified whole, but dispensing completely with the expressive medium which would be best suited for this undertaking, namely song.’ The declaiming of the verses through the melodic line creates a type of ‘orchestral recitation’. Hindemith divided Mallarmé’s poem into eleven sections of unequal length which differ from each other in tempo, metre and tonality. In the chamber orchestra made up of solo wind and strings with piano, the string instruments are allocated to the nurse, whereas Hérodiade’s impulsiveness is depicted by solo passages or all instruments combined. Hindemith criticised not only the practice of declaiming poetry in synchronisation to the music to emphasise the direct connection between the poetry and its musical setting which had already been adopted during the composer’s lifetime but also the abstract choreography which Martha Graham had created for the first performance of the work. (S. Sch.-G.)

Orchestral Cast

1 · 1 · 1 · 1 - 1 · 0 · 0 · 0 - Klav. - Str.

Programmation des personnes

Zwei Tänzerinnen

Plus d'infos

de Stéphane Mallarmé
Récitation Orchestrale
Matériel d'exécution
Maison d'édition:
Schott Music
Year of composition:
22 ′
30 octobre 1944 · Washington, DC (USA)
Library of Congress, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Auditorium

Kostüme: Edythe Gilfond · Bühnenbild: Isamu Noguchi · Choreographie: Martha Graham

Détails techniques

Numéro du produit:
LS 2236-01

Preview/Media Contents



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