MOABIT SONNETS, THE


Movements:
I. Guilt II. Rat Trek III. Wave Calls/In Fetters IV. Time V. Noises

Instrumentation:
2 sopranos, tenor, bass, chamber orchestra: 2 flutes (1st doubles piccolo), oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns, Bb trumpet, strings, [percussion (1-2 players): tubular bells, brake drum, suspended cymbals (small, medium, large), tam-tam (large), Chinese cymbal, triangle (small), tom-toms, snare drum, quica, temple blocks, slapstick, marimba, xylophone, vibraphone], piano/celeste

Text: Albrecht Haushofer, trans. M.D. Herter Norton

Duration: 29 minutes

Commissioned By:
Commissioned for the Twentieth Anniversary of the Founding of the Linfield Chamber Orchestra

Premiere:
April 15, 2011 by Kayla Wilkens, soprano; Chelsea Janzen, mezzo-soprano; Sam Dinsmore, tenor; Matthew Hayward, baritone; with the Linfield Chamber Orchestra, Michael Gesme, conductor, at Linfield College, McMinnville, OR

Available From:
Libby Larsen Publishing

Composer's Notes:
The Libretto: Albrecht Haushofer’s eighty Moabit Sonnets were penned in 1944 during his four month imprisonment in Berlin’s Moabit Prison. Between 1920 and 1941, Haushofer, a Professor, lecturer, poet, and playwright  was a member of Adolph Hitler’s inner circle where, as a Foreign Officer, he acted as Advisor to Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s Deputy. 

As early as 1940, Haushofer joined the German Resistance, using his position to secretly work against the Nazi Regime. He was discovered in 1944, thrown into prison and released on April 23, 1945, fifteen days before V-E Day. As he left the prison he was shot and killed by the SS. The  Moabit Sonnets were found in his breast pocket. They are a poetic compendium of the soul of Germany as he knew it. Using mythology, symbolism, historical parallels and metaphor, Albrecht Haushofer offers us a brutally honest account of the guilt and horror which surrounded and confronted him. At the same time he offers us his belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. Through the Moabit Sonnets, what the Nazi party hoped to repress with Haushofer’s death, was and will be amplified across time and generations.

Adapting eleven of the eighty sonnets into the libretto for my Moabit Sonnets, I created a narrative in which Albrecht Haushofer, (baritone solo) from his prison cell, brings his story and  his sonnets to light through his voice and the voices of two sopranos and a tenor. 

The Music: Author Milan Kundera brilliantly characterizes Arnold Schoenberg’s invention of the 12 Tone Technique as the supreme sonic metaphor for the breakdown of humanity in Germany over the first fifty years of the 1900’s. I agree. And I felt utterly compelled to couch the entire composition of the Moabit Sonnets in this technique. I created a 12 Tone row and generated a Gestalt, composing the instrumental music using it’s pitch organization, with some modifications, (such as in Song IV, Dream Two: Sir Thomas More) weaving  two melodies which were central to the work of the Nazi Party—Horst Wessel and Deutschland uber alles—into the fabric of the composition. For the harmonic basis of the solo vocal material I used church modes filtered through the Gestalt.
 

Row and Gestalt:


A

Bb

E

Gb

C

D

Ab

B

F

G

Db

Eb

Ab

A

Eb

F

B

Db

G

Bb

E

Gb

C

D

G

Ab

D

E

Bb

C

Gb

A

Eb

F

B

Db

Gb

G

Db

Eb

A

B

F

Ab

D

E

Bb

C

F

Gb

C

D

Ab

Bb

E

G

Db

Eb

A

B

E

F

B

Db

G

A

Eb

Gb

C

D

Ab

Bb

Eb

E

Bb

C

Gb

Ab

D

F

B

Db

G

A

D

Eb

A

B

F

G

Db

E

Bb

C

Gb

Ab

Db

D

Ab

Bb

E

Gb

C

Eb

A

B

F

G

C

Db

G

A

Eb

F

B

D

Ab

Bb

E

Gb

B

C

Gb

Ab

D

E

Bb

Db

G

A

Eb

F

Bb

B

F

G

Db

Eb

A

C

Gb

Ab

D

E

Filter By