HE JUST MISSED THE TRAIN

film with optional ensemble (see worklist for instrumentation) 16 mins

If we accept the idea that boogie-woogie was influenced by the rhythms of the 1870s Texas railroad, one could argue that the third variation of the second movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata no.32, due to its uncanny similarity to boogie-woogie, also resembles a train. While I like the idea that the sound of the world, be it pastoral or industrial, seeps its way into music of every kind, the truth of the matter is that Beethoven just missed the train. The first steam passenger railway in the German Confederation opened in 1835, 8 years after his death. (Ironically enough it was called the Ludwigsbahn, named not after our hero alas, but in honour of King Ludwig the first of Bavaria.) Connecting Nuremburg and Fürth, the railway line ran for only 5 miles. I don’t know exactly how fast it went, probably not much more than 30 miles per hour, and these days one can hardly understand the fuss over a train travelling a route that would take less than 90 minutes to walk. Even so, I must put myself in the shoes of those first passengers and try to imagine what it must have been like to see the world anew at a higher speed, in an uncut stream of motion blur.

This piece was commissioned by Asamisimasa with funds from the Norwegian Arts Council.