The Song of the Bell
The Song of the Bell was commissioned by
Stadtmusikkapelle Wilten, from Innsbruck, Austria, and was premiered by them on
21st April 2012, conducted by Peter Kostner.
The piece is based on Friedrich Schiller’s epic 1798 poem
Das Lied von der Glocke (The Song of the Bell), which is one of the most
famous (and, at 430 lines, one of the longest) in German literature. The poem
draws a close parallel between human life and the process of casting a bell,
something Schiller knew intimately from childhood, as his family lived close to
the bell foundry in Ludwigsburg.
The poem compares the joys and sorrows of human existence
with the various stages of bell production and meditates on the contrasting
moments in life when bells play an important part, from celebrating civic
events, raising an alarm to the different roles of church bells.
The Song of the Bell is in three continuous sections
which highlight these events:-
1) LIFE CELEBRATION
opens with two offstage horns accompanied by a variety of
bells and focuses on those moments in life when bells celebrate joyous
occasions. Schiller, for example, compares the birth of a child with the
beginning of the casting process.
2) SOUND THE ALARM
introduces a faster tempo and describes the use of a bell
as a method of warning the population of fire, flood or even war.
3) JOURNEY’S END
opens with a funeral knell but grows into a joyous
evocation of the heavenly afterlife, turning the opening horn calls into a