Orchestral and ensemble works 2004

Sebastian's Dream (Sebastian im Traum)

Salzburg Night Music on a poem by Georg Trakl

for orchestra

Commissioned by the Eduard van Beinum Stichting, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra

Period of composition 2003-04
Duration circa 15 minutes

World premiere

World premiere December 22nd, 2005

Amsterdam · Concertgebouw
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Conductor Mariss Jansons


About Sebastian

One of my first printed compositions was "Apollo et Hyacintus" (1948/49), improvisations for harpsichord and eight solo instruments based on the early poem "Im Park" by Georg Trakl, the great Expressionist. At the end of the piece, an alto recites this (short) poem, which I had wanted to connect with the legendary myth of life and death of the boy Hyacinth, whose pictures were transformed through me into musical signs. Since then, I have regarded the final lines

O, Dann neige auch Du die Stirne
Vor der Ahnen verfallenem Marmor

as a motto for my creative doings in general, without referring once again directly and word-for-word to Trakl. Only now, half a century after this early work, have I returned to the art of the great Salzburger, and with a late work, busied myself with the poem "Sebastian im Traum". It deals with nocturnal images of the countryside around Salzburg, of the visions of childhood, and of the morgue, with decay, autumnal reveries, angels and shadows.

The music tried to follow the traces of the poet's words (as someone with a movie camera tries to capture the course of events or as another perhaps takes down the communication of subject matter in shorthand) and it has a deep relationship to Salzburg - predominantly referring to my protracted stay there in the summer of 2003, to the (Catholic) melancholy there, to the Salzburg temperatures and perfumes, to the rustic Baroque, to the biblical, to the wooden crucifix, to the nearness of death, to the moonlight, to Traklish evening sonatas.

In the poetry there is a slighty discernible form of reprise, which also echoes back out of the music, but apart from that, we continually hear different characters, new ones always come and go, appear, shine, and disappear. Occasionally there are touches, overlappings that have something painful about them, which go along with the general tenor of the piece, where light and dark polyphonies collide with one another in a manner that characterizes the style of the entire composition.

Hans Werner Henze


3 Flutes

2° doubling Piccolo
3° doubling Alto flute
3 Clarinets1° Cl. = B flat; 2° Cl. = A; 3° Cl. = B flat, doubling Bass Clarinet
2 Oboes
Cor Anglais
3 Bassoons3° doubling Contrabassoon
3 Trumpets in C
4 Horns in F
4 Trombones1° = Alto Trombone
Percussion (4 players)
II3 Suspended Cymbals (small, medium, large)
4 Tam-tams
Abendglocken (Church Bells)
Temple Block
IIIBass Drum with Cymbals
Wood Block
IVSnare Drum
3 Tom-toms
Tam-tam (low)
Metal Block
2 Harps