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Borowski, Johannes Boris: Up and down (2018) 10'
for solo violin


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere

Church, Aldeburgh
Michael Barenboim, violin /

Composer's Notes


Thoughts about "Up and Down," December 2017
In Up and Down there is a constant alternation between virtuoso-playful and inflexible, schematic elements.
Whereas (joyful) discovery stands in the foreground in the virtuoso-playful elements, the inflexible, schematic element establishes a distance that immediately puts the naive joy into perspective again. Influence, imitation, appropriation, reinterpretation, resignation, and defiance can be some points of relation that we as listeners read into such juxtapositions. In the end, it is always our interpretation, dependent on our imagination and our disposition for empathy and formative participation.

The confrontational, insisting juxtaposition in the piece may also be an "existential" moment that reaches into the political-social realm: the inability to enter into dialogue. This is endured here. There is no complaint, but rather a social interaction, a practice.

Sometimes, there does not have to be a dialogue.

Over time Up and Down withdraws more and more into itself. – The piece threatens to lose itself. – And yet remains itself.

The title of the piece can be understood structurally: characteristics of the individual elements repeatedly alternate sequence-like on respective incrementally rising and lowering steps.

The title of the piece can be understood gesturally: both the right bow hand and the left fingering hand perform up and down movements.

The title of the piece can be understood as a reference to a poem by Nelly Sachs ("Welche geheimen Wünsche" [What secret wishes], published in the book of poems In den Wohnungen des Todes [In the dwellings of the dead], 1947).
In a time of populism, the inability to enter into dialogue, and the increasing propensity to violence in everyday life, this poem seems distressingly contemporary. The confrontation with the horrors of the Nazi period in Nelly Sachs’s poem is far away from the aesthetics of consternation, pure political or social educational work, and accusation. Almost playfully, tenderly we approach the sinisterness of human existence, the dread that lies hidden in each and every one of us.
Johannes Boris Borowski (translation: Howard Weiner)

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