“My orchestral cycle Sphären (‘Spheres’) consists of six pieces. The first five pieces were written between 2001 and 2005. After the death of my wife in January 2006, I added a sixth piece. The whole cycle is dedicated with love and gratitude to Ursula Höller-Heidemann.
The six movements (sound images) bear the following titles:
I. Song of the Clouds
II. Wind Chime
III. Layers of Earth
IV. Rain Canon
VI. Mourning of the Spheres
Within my oeuvre there are several works (for example, Mythos/Myth, Schwarze Halbinseln/Black Peninsula, and Tagträume/Day Dreams) that are subtitled “sound poem.” This term, which I coined, alludes to the poetic moment or the literary references in these works, but in no way implies “program music” – to the most outstanding works of which, by the way, not the least objection can be made – and therefore any attempt to classify them as Romantic or late-Romantic is entirely out of place.
As a composer, it is not and never has been my intention to use music as a “demonstration” (of principles of structure, tonal effects, etc.) What, then, does my music bear witness to? It tells above all of processes and spheres of experience (already in 1971, I spoke of “fields of experience” in regard to the structure of my electronic composition Horizont/Horizon). Thus my Spheres do not draw upon the ideas that have haunted the musical world since antiquity, of a music of the spheres, or even of a harmony of the spheres, but – if at all – upon the nature-philosophical reflections of an Empedocles in which the four elements – air, water, earth, and fire – played a central role. Since then, and up to the present day, they have time and again stimulated the imagination of artists and inspired new creations.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s poem cycle Wolken (Clouds) could be cited as one of the numerous modern-day contributions to this subject area. But my work does not have any direct connection to such literary manifestations. Nevertheless, the involvement with these poems was just as stimulating as that with Peter Sloterdijk’s major work Spheres in which the metaphor of “decantation,” that is to say, the pouring of old wine into new containers for the purpose of revitalization, has a certain importance. Not least, the concept of the “globular (or spherical) form of consciousness,” formulated by Henri Bergson, has for a long time also had a permanent place in my world of imagination.
“If there is a sense of reality, there must also be a sense of possibility” (Robert Musil). Correspondingly, I am not interested in the as realistic as possible portrayal of extra-musical phenomena with the means of music, but always in the question of how my personal imagination or idea of such phenomena can be expressed in music, but without their immanent logic being affected. Imagination (Latin imagio: picture) has at least two fundamental characteristics: it helps the “pale cast of thought” (Hamlet) attain color and plasticity, and gives direction and structure to the aimlessly rambling fantasy. It produces tonal images that – even when they derive from known phenomena – do not stick to them, but respectively break loose from them, circle them, or transform themselves into something else. Their goal is not ideological concepts with which the existing is to be confirmed or negated, but the bringing-into-the-world of distinctive characters (with all their maladjusted qualities).
I do not consider it necessary to elaborate on the individual movements of Spheres, since on the one hand the titles speak for themselves and, on the other, individual listening experiences are indeed stimulated, but should not be channeled by them. Concerning the background of the work’s genesis, it suffices to say that the first four sound images owe their existence not least to my regular sojourns in the North-Italian alpine-lake landscape and the associated impressions of nature. The fifth piece (“Fireworks”), whose inclusion in the cycle was planned from the beginning, is the orchestrated version of a piece for chamber orchestra that I composed in 2005 for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of my home town of Leverkusen. Two quotes are woven into the texture of the last piece (“Mourning of the Spheres”): an orchestrated version of “Tastengeläut” from my piano cycle Monogramme (Monograms) and an excerpt from the second movement of the String Quartet no. 14 (“Death and the Maiden”) by Franz Schubert.”