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Niels Marthinsen

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

The Poet (2007)
Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
11 Minutes

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Programme Note
Niels Marthinsen The Poet (2007)
The Poet for violin, baritone saxophone, and piano is the fourth of a series of seven compositions named after Karen Blixen's collection of short stories Seven Gothic Tales.

My musical gothic tales are written for very different ensembles - The Supper at Elsinore is a saxophone quartet, The Old Chevalier is for bass trombone and piano, The Monkey is a chamber orchestra work - but they all share musical material in a criss-cross of contextual references reminiscent of Blixen's narrative complexity: Themes and motives from one piece appear in others in new and surprising shapes and combinations.

Karen Blixen's The Poet is about a retired councilor who always desired to be an artist - once he even met his ideal, Goethe - but knows that he is completely without talent. Instead he patronizes a young gifted writer to the extent of shaping himself into a father figure his protege depends upon. When a young Italian widow arrives and the writer predictably falls in love with her, and she with him, the councilor arranges a marriage between the widow and himself in order to break the young poet's heart - only in the best intention: to make him into a real poet. But the writer decides to take his own life, and the widow crushes the councilor's head with a heavy stone crying, ”You poet!” As he dies helpless to the will of destiny, the councilor realizes that fate has wrought a story greater than any he could have invented.

The Poet isn't 'about' anything. The music is inspired by the artistic content of Blixen's short story - its emotionalism, dramatic construction, atmosphere, period and setting - but unfolds in time and musical space in ways that are completely independent of the story's narrative progression... except one might say that the violin kills off the piano while the saxophone goes drown itself.

The Poet was originally written for piano trio and is commissioned by Trio Con Brio Copenhagen.

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