Three movements with three angelic comments, for three mixed choirs
on diverse texts from the times of WW1 – in different languages and setups
The third big movement is based on a Hungarian novel, from which the title of the whole collection came. Although written 100 years ago, the text reflects on a growing problem in our modern world: violent and fanatic nationalism. The writer, Kosztolányi, appoints it as one of the main reasons that lead to WW1 – and wars in general. Shouldn’t we learn from it? And ‘teach our children to love Humans…and make peace?’
“They say: Space, and Time, Now, and Eternity.
What is Space, and Time, Now and Eternity?”
Three times three voices three questions.
1. Come questa pietra – Marcia
An Italian funeral march. The weeping of a mother, “as cold, as tough… as totally disheartened… as a stone” – a chested, folky melody, introducing one of the scales of the piece. She is joined by growing groups of mourners. Their melodies blend into one harmonic progression.
Meanwhile the decomposed elements of the text are whispered, moving from left to right, and back – the marching of a ghost army.
The culmination: ‘Death is alive’.
2. Saillant / Der Abend, Im Osten
- A (never ending) night on the (never ending) field
In the 2nd movement we hear the French and the German side, and in-between the noises of the emptiness - The tragic ‘boredom’ and uncertainty of the Front.
Suddenly a fight occurs, an explosion, from which we return to the weeping material of the 1st movement. Someone starts singing a Christmas carol: ‘Veni, veni Emmanuel’ (first in the scale of the piece, then slowly going back to its original modal form). The Latin text version is echoed in French and English.
Both parties join the song, for a day, instead of killing, comes the message of Love and Light.
Then Death returns.
Chromatic etude - the leaves slowly falling and fading, so as we do, on our way to doom.
“Die before you have to die, so when you have to die you don’t die, otherwise you’ll be damned.”
3. Nemzetesdi (Playing ‘Nationalism’)
Describing a nightmare of sick children (the different nations) lying on beds next to each other, and still screaming in their nightmares each other’s names – fearing they might be attacked by each other.
Being lost in his thoughts, the writer draws his conclusions:
‘Shouldn’t… all the poets, All the good-willed people of the world unite,
Write teaching books, respectable, smart, Angelic books…
So that our children can learn to love Humans… and make peace’.
“We played ‘Nationalities’ only as a joke, In our empty hours.”
The angels talk about losing one’s self for God.
Is this self-sacrifice what brings us above ourselves? – or is it what is also used to motivate us to die or kill for our nation, religion or belief?
This choral has “haunted me” for long time, before it found its place as the ending of Angelic Books.