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Tan Dun

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Death and Fire: Dialogue with Paul Klee (1992)
G Schirmer Inc
Year Composed
27 Minutes

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Programme Note
Tan Dun Death and Fire: Dialogue with Paul Klee (1992)
Some years ago, I went to an exhibition on the painter Paul Klee at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Extremely moved, I decided to write a symphony, which unfolded like a discussion - a dialogue between myself and Klee’s paintings. Though, it is not in any sense a musical description of particular works, the symphony is constructed of many small sections reminiscent of Klee's method and imagined as a complete, continuous whole.

Klee was concerned with finding formal means to embody deep universal feelings without bitterness or pathos, using a sophisticated complexity to make a concentrated simplicity. Line, which in his thinking was associated both with melody and dynamics, was a major element in his work. This is closely related to the Chinese aesthetic, which is linear, non-harmonic, and seeks the soul of the work rather than its surface effects.

— Tan Dun

  • Ensemble
    Helsinki Philharmonic
    Muhai Tang, Kari Kropsu
  • Ensemble
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Tan Dun
DEATH AND FIRE's imaginative flights put [it] in the upper echelon of Paul Klee-inspired music. Tan's composition has humor and pathos and is hugely entertaining.
Stephen Ellis, Fanfare,01/01/0001
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