Commissioned by Thorunn Osk Marinosdottir with finanical assistance from Musica Nova in Iceland and NESTA

  • viola, piano
  • 38 min

Programme Note

During a visit to Amsterdam two years ago, I found myself standing by a dark window covered in grey dense material in a house, no.263 in Prinsengracht, where Ann Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years during the second world war. Standing by the window in this unique museum with silent visitors passing by, my emotional response to this environment and what it represented was strangely muted. Suddenly a large bell was struck in the Westertoren Church nearby and the deep resonance emanating from that bell shook me profoundly for a split second. So this was the sound that Ann found reassuring; I was for a few moments painfully aware of her terrible fate. When I started work on a composition for viola and piano the experience in the Ann Frank Museum became more and more the magnet that shaped the musical character of the work.

The mysterious and almost secretive sound of the viola seemed perfect for the sound-worlds I wished to create. The piano represents at times the “outer” world and the viola the “inner” world. Notes From a Diary consists of 15 short movements that form a larger whole, like songs in a song-cycle. There are no direct references to Ann’s diary, but much to my own “diary of sounds” that emerged gradually from that single stroke of a bell that I heard in the Ann Frank Museum in Amsterdam two years ago.

HH, August 2005



Score sample