Schumann’s Ghosts

Composed in


Soprano ad libitum and 9 Instruments

Flute-Clarinet-Bass Clarinet-Horn-String Quintet


First performance
December 4, 1999 at the Kaaitheater in Brussels (B). Mitsuko SHIRAI, soprano. Ictus Ensemble, conducted by Georges-Elie OCTORS.

Commissioned by
Ictus Ensemble


Luc on “Schumann’s Ghosts” :

This small piece was commissioned by the Ictus Ensemble and composed in 1999. It was (the first) part of a cycle of “arrangements/revisits” of the song cycle op. 99 by Robert Schumann, realized by 7 composers, among them Jonathan Harvey. The idea was to keep untouched the vocal line composed by Schumann, while everything alse was totally free to each composer’s discretion. I received song n° 1 “Lied des Schmiedes” (Song of the smith), which is very staightforward and harmonically very simple. I just kept the basic harmony and filled it with different moods, at places with many notes. I took a lot of fun realizing this, quoted Mahler (2nd Symphony) and Janacek (Glagolithic Mass) and made a grotesque kind of Foxtrot in the third verse.  At the end a cuckoo sings “goodbye”, while repeating sharpening by a quarter tone each time and the ensemble desintegrates before playing the conclusive bars which are a perfect mirror of the first two. I intentionally previewed two versions, with or without the voice. The first performance took place in december ’99 in Brussels by Mitsuko Shirai with the Ictus Ensemble under George-Elie Octors.

Luc Brewaeys