• Robert Saxton
  • Reflections of Narziss and Goldmund (1975)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Premiered at the Royan Festival, April 1977 by Ensemble 'M' of the Hague, conducted by David Porcelijn

  • group II: ob.cl/hn/va.vc.db
  • 12 min

Programme Note

"Reflections of Narziss and Goldmund" relates structurally to the novel by Hermann Hesse. I’ see the book as a series of episodes which always appear to be building up to a climactic point, but which never achieve this. In fact, each episode seems to die away, the only climax coming near the end of the novel; however, this is only an artificial crescendo in the story, because the true ending is yet another process of fading to nothing, ending with a question-mark when Goldmund (the troubled man) challenges the ever-peaceful Narziss with a question to which Narziss is unable to reply. This leaves the reader with an ambivalent attitude to the entire range of questions and possible answers which Hesse poses. (May r add that this is a subjective view of Hesse's structure.)

The music relates to these specific aspects of the structure of the novel; any further connections between the two are non-existent. Whereas Hermann Hesse is telling a story, the music is entirely abstract. The musical figures/ideas come and go in a kaleidoscopic manner and beneath this surface there are quite complex structures. The short sections continually fade away; as in the novel, there is an artificial crescendo near the end and the piece closes with only the harp and piano/celesta playing, the two ensembles having attempted a last appearance in vain.

Robert Saxton