Fantasia and Fugue for English Horn and Full Orchestra based on the poem by Georg Trakl (1988-89)
The composition “Occidental Song” is tracing the idea of the poem by Georg Trakl albeit without following the text in every detail. The main piece – the fugue – builds on the Concert Fugue, a type of fugue developed by Bach which is a combination of a fugued ritornello and concertante interludes. The theme of the poem is the incantation of three eras of the occident which lead to a vision of death and rebirth.
The preluding fantasia prepares the listener for the themes and characters of the subsequent fugue. Here the main theme of the fugue and its counterpoints are first introduced in the orchestra. Then three themes are presented in the solo-episodes of the English horn which – following the poem – refer to single eras of the occident:
A development-episode which combines each new theme with the previous one follows the introduction of each theme. In the last of these developmental-episodes, all themes are coalesced. It leads to the vision of death which climaxes in a twelve-tone chord as a symbol for decline and end. As an encryption of the vision of rebirth, the melody of an old French love-song from around 1190 appears as if coming from another world.
Georg Trakl: Occidental Song
O the soulís nocturnal stroke of wing:
O, you crusades and glowing tortures
O, you times of quiet and golden autumns,
O, the bitter hour of decline,
(from: „Sebastian im Traum“ [= Sebastian in a Dream])