The Paul Celan Variety Hour

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Are you familiar with the poetry of Paul Celan? This mid-twentieth-century German-language, born Romanian in what is now Ukraine, influenced a generation of artists living during and after WWII. Leader of a harsh and often tragic life, Celan became a French citizen many years after leaving his home country and married a woman he loved deeply, but ultimately committed suicide at age fifty.

Among the many composers influenced by Celan's intense and lovely poetry are two composers whose Celan-derived work the Brothers Balliett explore today: Harrison Birtwistle composed a set of nine songs for soprano and string quartet in his typically spiky and abrasive style; Michael Nyman is true to his stylistic roots as well, yielding a very different sound world in a set of six Celan poems.

Whether you've been a Celan fan for a long time or are just learning about him, these two drastically different approaches will show you once again how one poet's work can be tackled by composers from completely different worlds, both yielding persuasive and beautiful results.