The inspiration for a composition comes often from some text with strong atmosphere. The text can be just a couple of words, later used as the title of the work (as in ‘Fire Sermon’ or ‘Angel of Dusk’) – or it can be a poem, a story, a memory – anything.
In the case of ‘Stars Swarming’ it was a poem by Edith Södergran called The Stars. As a young boy I was presented a book of poetry by Södergran and later I set several poems from it for chorus. The Stars is a surrealistic night vision, where stars keep falling in the garden until the lawn is full of splinters.
In ‘Halcyon Days’ the impulse comes from a simple, monotonous repetition of a triplet. From this background a melody is born, a slowly ascending cantabile. Passionate, even violent moments are met, but they also seem to belong to those happy days.
‘Sighs and Tears’ have their share in the tapestry of life as well. Cor anglais and oboe lament, and violins join them in a wide, plaintive song – until woodwinds with two harps build a colourful background for the growing cantilena.
‘The Last Polonaise’ is like a variation on this solemn dance, which seems to have a special significance for me, as a symbol of finality. My opera The House of the Sun ended in a polonaise, and in Rasputin a polonaise opens the dramatic story of the end of the tsar.
© Einojuhani Rautavaara
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