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Kurtág György: Samuel Beckett: What is the Word

Samuel Beckett Sends Word through Ildikó Monyók in the Translation of István Siklós op. 30/b

score and parts

Op. 30/b
Setting: Voice and orchestra
Instrumentation: vocal ensemble: S, Ca, T, Bar, B soli - Chamber ensembles: pnino (pf. verticale) con super-sordino (upright piano withpractising pedal) - fl. (anche Tenorblockflöte), fl. in sol (anche picc.), fl.basso (anche Bassblockflöte), ob., c.i., cl. (anche in mi bemolle), cl.b., fg., cfg. 2 cor., 2 tr., 2 trb., tuba, cimbalom, arpa, cel., vibr. (anche mar., xyl., ptto sosp. 3. e raganella 2.) timp., perc. (2 players) vl., vla, vlc., cb. The performance rights of the upright piano have been reserved by the composer for Csaba Király.
Period: Contemporary Music
Duration: 12'
Publisher: Editio Musica Budapest
Item number: K-50
Other reference: 13990
The underlying words are taken from Samuel Beckett's last work. In this instance Kurtág made use of the Hungarian translation by István Siklós, and it was only later recomposing the piece that he included the English text into his composition. The existence of the work could have hardly been imaginable without Ildikó Monyók's performing art. The actress lost her ability to speak in a road accident and it was only after seven years if complete dumbness and due her immense strength of will that she regained it. At a certain phase of her recovery she could sing yet was unable to speak - she learned two songs by Kurtág as well. Kurtág listened to the songs and in Monyók's suggestive performance, and her fight for words he recognised the paralall with the message of Beckett's words. The first version of the composition (op. 30a) was written in 1990 for recitation and piano (in performing it Kurtág prefers using an upright piano). The orchestral version of the work (op. 30b, 1991) integrates the room of the performance among the basic elements of the composition. It has been a frequently applied device in Kurtág's orchestral works from 1987 onwards to place various groups of the performing force at different locations of the room.