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Andriessen, Louis: TAO (1996) 18'
for female pianist, women's voices and ensemble

Music Text

Lao Tzu (from Tao-teh Ching, chapter 50) (Ch) and Kotaro Takamura (Knife-Whetter) (J)


2S,2M 1.2picc.1.corA.0.0- 2bell plates/rin/t.bells/2gongs-pft(=cel)-harp-strings(min. solo pft(=singing/koto)

Abbreviations (PDF)


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

World Premiere

Helen Wiklund/Francine van der Heyden/Johannette Zomer/Gerda von Zelm / Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra/ Tomoko Mukaiyama, pft & koto / Peter Eotvos

Composer's Notes

Deutsch Français

TAO (the way) is the second part of my Trilogy of the Last Day, a cycle of compositions about mortality. In this part the choir sings a text from Tao-teh Ching (‘The Classic of the Way and its Virtue’), written by Lao Tzu in the sixth century BC. The piano soloist ends the piece with a poem, ‘Knife-Whetter’, written about 2,500 years later by Kotaro Takamura (1883–1956).  There is a kind of contradiction between the two texts: in Tao-teh Ching calm and emptiness dominate and, in the chosen fragment, invulnerability. But Takamura’s poem is primarily ominous.

This composition is based on a series of thirteen chords corresponding to the thirteen companions which Lao Tzu speaks of. I have made no attempt to relate to what is known as ‘music from the Far East’ or, even worse, ‘world music’.

Louis Andriessen

Reproduction Rights:
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.

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