Commissioned by the Tonhalle Düsseldorf for Adam Fischer's annual human rights concert


on texts by Aslı Erdoğan, Cem Özdemir, René Staar, André de Bouchet, Giuseppe Ungaretti, and Yiannis Ritsos (text compilation and arrangement by the composer)

for soprano, Sprechstimme, chorus, Hungarian cimbalom, and orchestra*
Duration: 22 minutes
World premiere: 19 March 2022 in the Tonhalle Düsseldorf, with Marisol Montalvo (soprano), Sylvie Rohrer (narrator), Enikö Ginzery (cimbalom), the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra and the Chorus of the Städtischer Musikverein zu Düsseldorf, conducted by Adam Fischer - postponed due to corona.

* Orchestra: 2 Flutes (with 2nd on piccolo); 2 Oboes; 2 Clarinets; Saxophone (Soprano in B flat alternating with Alto in E flat); 2 Bassoons (with 2nd also on Contrabassoon); 2 Horns in F; 2 Trumpets in C; 2 Trombones; 4 Percussionists**; Harp; Strings (12/12/8/6/6).

** Disposition: I. timpani, 1 very large cymbal (also arco!); II. xylophone, crotales, 2 tom toms (high-low), 1 large anvil (like in Rheingold) in F (alternatively, a large piece of metal with an approximate pitch, e.g. a rail), cymbals (high, small, also arco!), guiro, rainstick, 1 snare drum (medium size); III. tubular bells, 1 medium cymbal (also arco!), 2 small drums (high-low); IV. marimba, bass drum, tam-tam, low siren, triangle)


Published by Edition Contemp Art (Verlagsgruppe Hermann),
Obtainable via
Product number: LVGH 2696 (Hire/performance material)


The starting point of my work on the present piece was a text collage prepared in 2020, whose central core consists of various text fragments by the Turkish journalist and writer Aslı Erdoğan. formed the starting point of my work on the present piece. These impressive texts are recited by a Sprechstimme, which is surrounded by other texts. Two lines of poetry from André du Bouchet's Le monteur blanc constitute the motto of the work: the black branch in the sky and the suppressed cry symbolize the admonitions that are addressed to all of us through the reports on the suppression of investigative journalism. This motto is presented by the soprano at the beginning of the work, while the orchestra develops a five-part harmony from four different intervals that are initially heard separately.

This piece is about those who have the courage and strength to inform us of the normally concealed acts of injustice occuring daily in our world. Because freedom of the press is under attack more and more often, and journalists have their work made more difficult not only by political pressure but also by social pressure, they are increasingly threatened, insulted and also murdered. A monument to murdered journalists, erected on recurring quasi-ritual invocations of individual names, forms one of the central elements of the work.

The text fragments of Aslı Erdoğan portray three situations: the disappearance of a loved one and the uncertainty of whether one will ever see them again; then the outrage at the injustice and the reporter's commitment to seek truth, culminating in the words, "I do not want to be guilty of murdering people, nor of murdering words"; and finally, grief for the loss of joy in life and the feeling of emptiness after all the struggles for truth.

Originally selected from the essay collection Nicht einmal das Schweigen gehört uns noch [Not Even Silence Belongs To Us Anymore] (Munich, 2017), these text fragments were distilled into a dense fabric that became the starting point of a multi-layered concept based upon an intervalically-related five-part harmonic network.

The introduction to the first of these three spoken parts is presented by male chorus. It uses a text by Cem Özdemir that refers to the persecution of journalists after the last attempted Turkish coup, and musically recalls a "danse macabre". Two poems are interwoven at key points in the piece: Giuseppe Ungaretti's poem Non gridate più that serves as a dramatic climax; and Yiannis Ritsos' poem Επίπεδα διαρκείας [Duration Levels] at the end, which evokes a redemptive view of human-induced suffering through the image of spirits rising from graves, accompanied by bell tones. The poems are sung by the soprano, while the chorus either makes sounds that function as commentary or response, or enters into a kind of dialogue with the soloists.