• Kaija Saariaho
  • From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Helsinki (World)

Commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival with funds provided by Yorkshire Arts

  • SMz
  • SMz
  • 10 min
  • Sylvia Plath
  • English

Programme Note

The texts used in this piece come from two books by Sylvia Plath: there are excerpts of her only novel, The Bell Jar, and fragments of the poem "Paralytic" from the poetry collection Ariel. The texts are strong, dealing with life and death, escaping into madness, self-destruction and the fight against it. Nevertheless, the piece includes an evolution: the painful nightmare ends in daylight and life.

The emotional context of these texts, powerful in the extreme, led me to look for strict rules of musical organization, to contrast the emotional power.
However, these rules do not always proceed in a rational or combinatorial thinking, but rather in the manner of our dreams, where thoughts are transformed into visual images with their colours, juxtapositions,movements and directions. I have sought to operate in the same way by opening the text with two voices, and creating with them five different soundscapes.



From the Grammar of Dreams: I
From the Grammar of Dreams: II
From the Grammar of Dreams: III
From the Grammar of Dreams: IV
From the Grammar of Dreams: V


  • Kaija Saariaho’s Poetic Montages
    • Kaija Saariaho’s Poetic Montages
    • From the very beginning of her career as a composer, Kaija Saariaho has turned to poetry as a material and inspiration for her music. The forms and logics of poetry have played a defining role in her output since then.


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