Friedrich Cerha


for large orchestra and tape
Number of performers
5 · 4 · 5 · tsx. · barsx. · 4 - 8 · 4 Wtba. · 4 · 7 · 2 - perc. (12 performers) - 2 hp. · cel. · hpd. · pf. - 55 str. - tape
Composition year(s)
World premiere
Graz, Opernhaus, Weltmusikfest der Internationalen Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, Steirischer Herbst Musikprotokoll · ORF Symphony Orchestra · Friedrich Cerha, conductor
Spiegel I
Spiegel II
Spiegel III
Spiegel IV
Spiegel V
Spiegel VI
Spiegel VII
Extra title
complete cycle
Comment of the composer on the work

The optical aspect played an essential part in all phases of creating the Spiegel. When writing down the scenic draft (1961) it was always clear to me that there cannot be a single, compulsory bracing of the optical and acoustical level; instead, the combination of both creates a field of overlapping in which various individual solutions are possible. The director and the choreographer should therefore feel as little bound or even patronised as possible, to have space to unfold their personal creativity.

The descriptive record of my own ideas seems to contradict that, and it is a procedure which can entail misunderstandings. Nevertheless I decided to do it to provide an image of impressions to be released. It is only the fundamental tendency of the process described in the draft which is binding. Looking at the overall concept, a number of rules for the presentation can easily be derived.

The isolated essence, its individual development, its destiny, is not the subject of presentation. Life always appears as a community; expressionistic accents are to be avoided. In a specific historical situation, obvious symbolic content should never be made plain with force. The inventory of classical ballet movements is unsuitable for executing the tasks presented in this piece. The actors’ movements are often similar, but not identical; only in isolated, exceptional cases are they simultaneous. Similarity of movement and temporal coordination are stronger if the task is common to all.

Among its individual parts, the music comprises strong formal references, variants and varied reprises. These are likewise intended in the optical area, yet the two relational systems do not always cover each other, although the optical events are to be fundamentally developed from the music. The cooperation of the two levels is intended in this way to attain complexity in the relationships. It would be correct if – in analogy to the music – the optical aspect (proceeding from adequately chosen material) would reveal aesthetic and dramatic events as essential in the formally governed composition, acting in response to emotional and intellectual principles as the music does.

Friedrich Cerha