Austrian Expressionist poet Georg Trakl has inspired Hans Werner Henze throughout his career. As a young composer, Henze’s improvisatory work Apollo and Hyacintus was based on the poet’s “Im Park.” Now 50 years later, Henze has “returned to the art of the great Salzburger” in his symphonic realization of Trakl’s poem Sebastian im Traum which premieres on 22 December by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons. Co-commissioned by the Concertgebouw with the Eduard van Beinum Foundation, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, the work receives its Swiss premiere in May 2006, followed by a summer festival tour with Jansons and the Concertgebouw. The New York premiere takes place during the 2006-07 season.
Henze states, “I have busied myself with [this late] poem ‘Sebastian im Traum.’ It deals with nocturnal images of the countryside around Salzburg, of the visions of childhood, and of the morgue, with decay, autumnal reveries, angels and shadows. The music tries to follow the traces of the poet’s words (as someone with a movie camera tries to capture the course of events...)...it [also] has a deep relationship to Salzburg — predominantly [from] my stay there in the summer of 2003: the (Catholic) melancholy, the temperatures and perfumes, the rustic Baroque, the biblical, the wooden crucifix, the nearness of death, the moonlight, to [the] Traklish evening sonatas...we continually hear different characters, new ones always come and go, appear, shine, and disappear. Occasionally there are touches, overlappings that have something painful about them..., where light and dark polyphonies collide with one another...”