Have You Met Your Doppelgänger?
The idea of the doppelgänger — a person’s double or lookalike — has garnered much recent attention across the internet thanks to a trending New York Times article: “Your Doppelgänger Is Out There and You Probably Share DNA With Them.”
The Danish String Quartet’s ambitious four-year commissioning project, Doppelgänger, explores this concept in a sonic sense, pairing world premieres from renowned composers with late major chamber works by Franz Schubert. For their upcoming UMS program in Rackham Auditorium, the ensemble pairs “Death and the Maiden,” one of Schubert’s most famous and beloved quartets, with a brand new work by Finnish composer Lotta Wennäkoski. Read Wennäkoski’s remarks below on Pige (Danish for “girl”), and how she mirrors Schubert’s musical themes in a modern way:
Something fierce, something soundless, so have I written in my notebook when planning the string quartet Pige…
It has been an inspiring task to write a work to be paired with the “Death and the Maiden” quartet by Franz Schubert. The “Doppelgänger” idea was greatly feeding my imagination from the very beginning. It’s also been an honor to write music for the hugely expressive musicians of the Danish String Quartet.
The first movement Vorüber, ach, vorüber! is based on the first half of Schubert’s lied that lies behind his “Death and the Maiden” quartet. This “maiden’s song” has not found its way to his string quartet, so I wanted to use its material in mine. The second movement Daktylus borrows its idea from the haunting pulse of Schubert’s chant of Death. Something fierce and something soundless can be heard here — along with other aspects to the dactyl rhythm.
Schubert’s quartet is wonderful music and of course an unmissable boulder, and the “death and the maiden” is a tempting and gloomy motif in art history. On the other hand, I just couldn’t help seeing the motif also as the never-ending image of a lecherous male desiring the young female body…
The third movement thus turns its gaze to the girl herself. Pigen og scrapbogen, “The Girl and the Scrapbook,” is joyful textural music — compiled of fragments and freely handled quotations that might spring to mind when thinking of a vital girl’s life.
Pige is Danish for “girl.” I wish to thank the Danish String Quartet and the co-commissioners for the opportunity to write this music.