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Britta Byström

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Der Vogel der Nacht (2010),
Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen
Year Composed
9 Minutes
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Programme Note
Britta Byström Der Vogel der Nacht (2010),
Der Vogel der Nacht (The Bird of Night), wrote Gustav Mahler in the original score to his Third Symphony, as a comment to a small oboe phrase in the fourth movement. The words come from a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin. In the completed score, Mahler changed the poetry for an instruction: "Wie ein Naturlaut". The little phrase, repeated like a sad signal, seems to comment the surrounding music. In an essay about Mahler's Third, the Swedish author Carl-Johan Malmberg compares it to Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven: a voice which keeps saying "Nevermore" to the longing human. This was the image I had in mind during the composition process. Distorted echoes of the little "signalphrase" create a kind of refrain between other, brighter parts in the piece - parts of "longing". In these, I have let the bells which accompany boy's and women's choirs in the fifth movement in Mahler's symphony wander into the piece, dressed in new notes. Mahler's post-horn solo and the long, hymnlike ending have also left traces in my composition. And one can find echoes of other birds than "the bird of night": the lonely singer transforms suddenly into a hole bird choir, chirping in dawn.

Der Vogel der Nacht was first performed during the Baltic Sea Festival 2010, with Swedish Radio Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Britta Byström

As so often with Byström, the brighter tones dominate, however they are more tightly applied than usual.
Thomas Anderberg,,27/08/2010
A floating sound which is inspired again and again by suddenly appearing scales, reminiscent of bubbles rising in light-filled transparent water. The Swedish composer Britta Byström named her work "Der Vogel der Nacht" and wrote it for the Baltic Sea Festival. It is an overture to Mahler Symphony No 3, which will be performed at the same concert, and, according to the composer, a work that reflects on sounds of nature: "Mahler's Third is an incredibly rich work. The famous oboe theme from the 4th movement inspired my composition. Within the manuscript score Mahler annotated “Vogel der Nacht”. It is a quote from a Hölderlin poem. I was less interested in the motive itself but in the idea of a misfortune (Unglücksrabe) appearing over and over again with the message ‘never again’.” Byström is one of four Swedish composers, of a younger generation, who have received commissions for new works reflecting on existing orchestral repertoire by composers such as Chopin, Prokofiev and Pärt.
Agnes Bührig,,01/01/0001
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