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Name of Work

Gruber, H.K. (1943-)

fanfare prologue (for a mouse)
1. (i) dedication (ii) miss dracula
2 (i) goldfinger and bond (ii) john wayne
3 monsterlet
4 fanfare, intermezzo
5 frankenstein
6 rat song and crusoe song
7 superman
8 finale (i) the green-hairedman (ii) batman and robin (iii) monster in the park (iv) litany (v) hello, hello, herr frankenstein (vi) grete mueller's adieu
9 fanfare epilogue (for a mouse)


May 30, 2003

Dionne Jackson, Flute
Larry Combs, Clarinet
Dennis Michel, Bassoon
Oto Carrillo, Horn
Barbara Butler, Trumpet
Michael Kozakis, Percussion
Kuang-Hao Huang, Piano
Joseph Genualdi, Viola
Jasmine Lin, Violin
Rami Solomonow, Viola
Christopher Costanza, Cello
Bradley Opland, Double bass
William Bolcom,


Composed in 1971

Arranged in 1976-77

H. K. Gruber comments on his Frankenstein!! (a pandemonium for chansonnier and orchestra, after children's rhymes by H. C. Artmann)

The origins of this "pan-demonium" go back to the Frankenstein Suite of 1971 —a sequence of songs and dances written for the Vienna MOB art and tone ART Ensemble, which was then active in the field of instrumental theater. Although the suite was a success, I was unhappy with its improvisatory structure, and I felt it needed the resources of a full orchestra. So in 1976-77 I completely recomposed the work in its present form. It was first performed on November 25, 1978, by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Simon Rattle, with myself as soloist. For the 1979 Berlin Festival, I wrote an alternative version for a soloist and twelve players (first performed that year by the Vienna ensemble die reihe, under Kurt Schwertsik, again with myself as soloist). Since then, the two versions have happily coexisted, and in 1983, at the Espace Cardin in Paris, Frankenstein!! entered the theater for the first time—an unforeseen development, but one that proved suited to Artmann's multilayered fantasy.

The title of the volume from which I took the poems of Frankenstein!!—Allerleirausch, neue schone kinderreime (Noises, Noises, All Around, Lovely New Children's Rhymes)—promises something innocuous, but Artmann himself has described the poems as being, among other things, "covert political statements." Typically, he refused to explain what he meant, but his reticence is eloquent: the monsters of political life have always tried to hide their true faces and all too often succeed in doing so. One of the dubious figures in the pandemonium is the unfortunate scientist who makes a surprising entry at midpoint. Frankenstein—or whomever we choose to identify with that name—is not the protagonist but the figure behind the scenes whom we forget at our peril. Hence the exclamation marks.

Artmann's demystification of heroic villains or villainous heroes finds a musical parallel in the persistent alienation of conventional orchestral sound by resource to a cupboard-full of toy instruments. However picturesque or amusing the visual effect of the toys, their primary role is musical rather than playful—even howling plastic hoses have their motivic or harmonic function. In order to do justice to the true significance of the texts, it would be enough to provide some extra exercises in structural complexity Analogous with Artmann's diction, my aim was a broad palette combining traditional musical idioms with newer and more popular ones, and thus remaining true to the deceptive simplicity of texts whose forms at first glance suggest a naive and innocently cheerful atmosphere.

Performed May 30, 2003 (MCA)

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