Music by Daniel Dorff
|PROGRAM NOTES by the composer|
The Kiss (after the painting by Gustav Klimt) for Orchestra (14')
|When the Philadelphia Museum
of Art hosted a Brancusi show in 1996, the image of his sculpture The
Kiss was frequently seen around the city. Brancusi's Kiss has powerful energy yet is a very
static image, and this got me thinking about how Brancusi's Kiss would
sound if it were music. Its
contrast to the active passion of Rodin's The Kiss made an
interesting counterpoint, and I began imagining an orchestral suite with
movements for Kiss sculptures by Brancusi and Rodin, and paintings by Munch
February 1997, following a performance of my Summer Solstice, clarinetist
John Bruce Yeh asked what I was writing next. When I mentioned this
kiss-inspired suite, John reached for his wallet and pulled out a miniature of
Gustav Klimt's The Kiss, and the painting became an immediate addition
to my plans. In beginning to sketch
the suite, I realized that movements which best portray each of these diverse
painters and sculptors would not belong together in one piece, and my plans
needed radical refining.
December 2000 Rossen Milanov invited me to write a piece for the Haddonfield
Symphony - he specified music to open a concert, yet more substantial than an
overture. Although I first proposed
a tenor saxophone concerto, we agreed this work should be without a soloist.
Over the next few weeks I explored ideas, and on a plane ride in early
January 2001 I happened to look through SkyMall magazine and noticed an ad for
art reproductions, with a large color picture of Klimt's The Kiss which
I'd forgotten about. Looking at its mysterious sky and twinkling textures, the
lovers lost to the world in their golden bubble, and the dazzling colors and
patterns, musical ideas starting growing and it was clear that Klimt's Kiss
would be the subject of my new work.
I announced this to Rossen, he was delighted and mentioned there's a framed
reproduction of this painting hanging in his living room. He set the premiere
for February 2002 on the Valentine's weekend subscription concert, paired with
Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (meaning there would already be a tenor
saxophonist hired for the concert).
setting of The Kiss begins with a depiction of the painting's
background, followed by music illustrating the lovers from bottom to top,
starting from their tingling toes and progressing up their bodies, through their
hearts, and up to their heads - where their minds are and where the actual
kiss takes place.
first musical segment captures the general darkness of the sky and brilliant
twinklings within it, as well as the happily mysterious mood of the young lovers
in the midst of discovering each other. The gold bubble enveloping them
represents their romantic cocoon, dazzling from the excitement of this new
experience and isolating them from the outer world, the bubble depicted here by
a gently whirring celesta which frames the musical trip through the lovers.
Metallic stars in the painting inspired frequent use of glockenspiel and
triangles in the music.
second section (starting at bar 77) is a light scherzo depicting the tingly
feeling of joyous novelty and excitement. This
giddy segment is full of innocent and charming duets, probably representing the
feminine side of Klimt's embrace as well as the sheer happiness of new love.
scherzo is interrupted by a darker dance (bar 200) led by an intrusive tenor
saxophone and trombone, sometimes sweet and sometimes aggressive, with a rough
undercurrent of drums. This represents the uncertain (and perhaps threatening)
influence of lust on the new young lovers, a heightening of the previous
excitement level, or simply the masculine side of Klimt's embrace. It also
reflects a more complicated relationship than the naive scherzo.
forward, both through the painting and through the developing relationship
between the couple, the following section (bar 321) is a series of climaxes
representing their hearts and passions. Dazzling and dizzying, it's a
brilliant scene within the lovers' imagined golden bubble, cloistered from the
Klimt's painting, the visual texture and impassioned embrace are intense, but
the actual kiss is of secondary importance. Unlike much art on this topic, the
kiss itself is not mutual; Klimt's young woman receives a kiss on the cheek.
In a similar vein, my orchestral setting ends not with fireworks, but
with a tender and gentle resolution of an intimate scene that has been glorified
and exaggerated by peripheral excitement.
the music is generally very rhythmic and structured as a dramatic progression
toward the final kiss, it can also be perceived as a courtship over time which
may be performed as a ballet leading to a final scene matching the painting.
AUDIO EXCERPTS of the premiere, Rossen Milanov conducting Symphony in C:
on the image above to
|last updated 7/14/15