Olivier Messiaen Les offrandes oubliées (1930) für Orchester
Galina Ustwolskaja Sinfonie Nr. 1 (1955) für zwei Singstimmen und Orchester
Galina Ustwolskaja Sinfonie Nr. 3 »Jesus Messias, errette uns!« (1983)
für Männerstimme und Orchester
Luigi Nono Composizione per orchestra Nr. 1 (1951)
Franz Liszt Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (1881/82) Sinfonische Dichtung Nr. 13
To go to the very limit means accepting the consequences, whatever they are: pain, ostracism, but also the chance to enter otherwise inaccessible spheres. In the most extreme cases, it means death – as it did for the Czech resistance fighter Julius Fučík, whom Luigi Nono commemorated surreptitiously in his Composizione per orchestra No. 1. Galina Ustwolskaja’s music is radical to the point of self-abandonment. She rejected the principles of socialist realism so firmly that she accepted she would only ever compose for the drawer. In her First Symphony, which focuses on the fears and hardships of a child in a capitalist metropolis, she still attempted the hopeless balancing act between ideology and truth. In her Third Symphony, all efforts towards conformity have been buried. The instrumentation is split between extreme highs and lows. The middle register remains silent. Brutal playing techniques drive the players to their physical limits. Their pain begins to sound almost metaphysical.
Pain also turns into sound for Olivier Messiaen: in Les offrandes oubliées (The Forgotten Offerings) the forerunner of the post-war avant-garde and fanatical Catholic reminds us of the sinfully forgotten sacrifices of Christ: his musical incarnation of sin cuts a merciless swathe of unrest and destruction through his wafting symphonic meditation. Franz Liszt – once a piano virtuoso and socialite, later an ascetic priest – chose a form similarly rich in contrast for his final symphonic poem Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (From the Cradle to the Grave), in which life and death confront each other directly.
What appears to be a return to the cradle at the end turns out to be a serene farewell to traditional harmonics – crossing a threshold to a new age in musical history, years before Schönberg codified this step in the twelve-tone system.