For flute, horn, viola, and piano
World premiere:
Duration: ca. 8 minutes


Colliding movements was composed during a period of transition in my life, a period in which, despite the necessity of moving back to Austria, I had not yet made the decision to live there permanently.

In deciding where I would like to live, I was still torn between living in the United States and especially in California (where I had taught in 1988), in Switzerland (where I had resided until 1986), in Vienna, and other potential possibilities.

During this period I composed this one-movement but also multi-layered work. It was written for a Californian ensemble that found the work too difficult and therefore never performed it—an experience that perhaps became one of the reasons that I felt the urge to move back to Vienna.

When I look at it again, this piece seems to me to present a very big challenge for a chamber ensemble. It belongs to a series of compositions (and fragments) that I wrote between Just an Accident? op. 9 (1983-85) and the Bagatelles on the Name of György Ligeti op. 14/3 (1989-96), works which seem to embody the search for an as yet undefined musical idiom.

It incorporates the experience gained by the exploration of different intervals (an exploration that occurred consciously for the first time in my Structures op. 7) as a reference to rhythmic complexity and micropolyphony (which I had learned by studying the works of Ligeti). It also recalls, in its compactness, attempts at synthesizing a quasi-romantic affectation with a more objective way of thinking (like, for instance in Da stehn wir mit Spiegeln ... und fangen auf op. 15, composed in 1985). However, the piece does not yet contain the harmonic identity I developed while working with chordal dispositions in works such as the Bagatelles on the Name of György Ligeti (1989-96) or Vanished Dreams for String Quartet op. 22c (1993).

Formally, this transitional work could perhaps be best described as »Variations without a theme,« although its predominantly contrapuntal content also seems to contradict this characterization.

A precise analysis, as well as when the work will receive its premiere, are reserved for future consideration. I only want to add that at the time of its inception (1990), I had the intention of having two more one-movement »Movements« follow this composition ... here, too, the question of whether this intention can still be realized will also be left open for future consideration. (René Staar, 2017)