Wolfgang-Andreas Schultz


„My Young Life has an End“ - a death ritual

Fantasy for piano

To the archaic fundament of mankind belongs the ritual enactment of existential reverie. Therefore rites form the basic of cultural associations. In all cultures, one central rite is death: to assist the deceased, to accompany him on his last journey, and finally, for the living to recognize that death is a part of life.

The composition is called „A Death Ritual“ and indeed serves elements of three death rituals as a pallet of inspiration: the „Tibetan Book of the Dead“, an archaic death cult from the Andes and Dante's „Divine Comedy“.

The work consists of two largely formed sections: „The Death Ritual“ and „The World Beyond“.

The first section proceeds with the ritual sounding of a muted drum beat and strongly contrasting piercing flute imitation. It is followed by a fevered delirious passage. Here the ritual signal from the drum and the flute return. The struggle with death itself now appears in variations on the song „My Young Life has an End“ from the Dutch composer Jan Pieters Sweelinck (1562-1621). The following homophonic episode, after the ritual signal, describes the departure of the soul from a lifeness body.

The second section „The World Beyond“ begins. Here the Christian and the Buddhist world of beliefs combine. The path which Dante's „Divine Comedy“ depicts – from Inferno through Purgatory into Paradise – traverses the Buddhist concept of the path to light, where also horrible daemons wait. The Book of the Dead admonishes at the same time, that this vision is merely one illusion to see through and only then is it possible to proceed into the light with no confusion. This corresponds also to the music of the second section: passing through Inferno and Purgatory, or – to recall the Buddhist concept – through the torture of the horrid visions, until they are finally dispelled in various shades of light.

The outline in detail:




The fever




Death scene






The world beyond: Inferno