I got the idea to write this post half a year ago, when I boarded the train from Paris to Luxembourg. After a short business trip (an excellent excuse to book a ticket at the Opéra Garnier and enjoy Aribert Reimann’s “Lear”), I was sorry to leave. Paris has fascinated me since my first weekend escapes to Paris when I was a student. A friend of mine living in Paris regularly travelled to Munich to see her boyfriend and I was free to use her apartment for two or three days. I would hop on the night train and Paris was mine! So when I boarded the TGV in June this year, I picked a lovely piece of chamber music as a farewell melody. In 1853, Camille de Saint Saëns wrote his Quartet for Piano, Violin, Viol and Cello in E major. Good-bye Paris then, good-bye 2016 now.
For more than a year I have wanted to write about Kaija Saariaho, a contemporary Finnish composer. My reverence for living composers made me hesitate initially. But I did it anyway and actually, it was fun. Saariaho was born in 1952 and studied at the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), a research institute founded by Pierre Boulez to promote musical and acoustical studies. IRCAM was and still is an incubator for many modern compositions.
Benedicam dominum in omni tempore – I will bless the Lord at all times. This old Gregorian chant uses a text from Psalm 34 and expresses the belief of Christians that faith will deliver them from the sin of mankind and reward them for any their suffering on earth. It is meant to give hope, to present God as a shining beacon to guide the faithful through night. At Christmas, Christians celebrate the moment this beacon was lit: the beginning of a new hope. The Baroque composer Dietrich Buxtehude has set this prayer to music in his work BuxWV 113. It has been recorded by the Göteborg Baroque Soloists and the Göteborg Baroque Arts Ensemble under Magnus Kjellson.
Thank you. Two words. So simple. So difficult. Another year is drawing to its end. Many things have happened. I worked less and spend more time with my family. I enjoyed a beautiful spring in our garden. I saw my daughter grow up and I have reasons to be very proud of her. I drew strength from a loving partnership and kept my mind busy through fascinating books and music. Thank you for all that. I feel very lucky.