Per Nørgård's Wölfli - A Discarded Misfit
Dramatic Choir Montage for an Actor/Recitator and Chamber Chorus (2007).
Extracts from the preface:
No idyll without catastrophe – no catastrophe without idyll.
Adolf Wölfli (1864-1931, Switzerland) is a central figure in the so called mad arts, i.e. art created by patients who are certifyably mentally ill. Wölfli’s vast and eclectic production consists of approximately 20.000 pages of prose, poetry, pictures and fragmentary musical compositions. All of which was created at an institution in Waldau, Bern from 1900-1931 (...).
Danish composer Per Nørgård (born 1932) discovered, by accident, Wölfli’s art at the Louisiana Museum,
while on his way to a Schönberg concert, a concert he never made it to. The encounter with Wölfli’s art was to become a major source of inspiration for Nørgård in the 1980’s. The inspiration resulted in Nørgård’s SYMPHONY NO. 4 (1981), entitled Indischer Roosen-Gaarten und Chineesischer Hexensee (after the title on a planned Musikbüchlein by Wölfli), and the opera THE DIVINE TIVOLI (1982) and numerous choral works. Nørgård’s works from the 1980’s inspired by Wölfli are characterised by being wild, dramatic and moving.
The present work, WÖLFLI, has its point of departure in the choral works of the 1980’s and songs and interludes from the opera. All this is combined with additional prose, poetry and pictures by Wölfli, which come together to form a music-dramatic portrait of the confined, his thoughts and artistic universe. Whereas the opera was a scenic tour de force of intense drama, polyphonic scenarios and whirling instrumentation, the
focus in WÖLFLI is monologue and intimacy.