6 April 2018

The Benefit of Sadness

Nickel van Duijvenboden in collaboration with Mirjam Kuitenbrouwer and Koen Nutters

The Benefit of Sadness is a blend of epistolary monologues, music fragments and film footage, resulting from Nickel’s recent working period in Berlin. It is loosely centered around the composer and writer Hanns Eisler (1898-1962), drawing from his correspondence with his tutor Arnold Schönberg, as well as Nickel’s own exchange with the writer and artist Mirjam Kuitenbrouwer.

One of Schönberg's most promising pupils, Eisler would become known as a pre-eminent socialist composer and a close collaborator to Brecht and Adorno, among others. His political views estranged him from his master’s ‘bourgeois’ avant-gardism early on, and forced him into exile on two occasions, once from Nazi-Germany, once from McCarthy-era America. He lived in East Berlin for the rest of his life, where his most challenging work was largely ignored, muffled by the authorities he had hoped to underpin.

This personal history is epitomized in his final composition, the brilliantly condensed Ernste Gesänge (1962) for baritone and strings. This late work reveals a unique dialectical approach to composing, rooted in both romantic and atonal styles. Relying on poetry by Hölderlin and others, it forms an ambiguous, melancholy reflection on the twentieth century.

Nickel uses Eisler’s life story and music as coordinates to reflect on his own melancholy and anachronistic tendencies, shedding light on the unresolved tension between ‘bourgeois’ solipsism and collective ‘outrage’ in art today.

Doors open: 20:00
Entrance: €5 suggested donation

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