Duration (in minutes): 20'39;
Difficulty: High (professional)
Publisher: Subito Music Corporation
Description: “K. 1971” is based mainly on Kafka’s “The Trial”, the story of a man who was arrested and convicted of a crime he knew nothing about. Selections of text were made to emphasize Kafka’s condemnation of our legal system. To reinforce this musically, the voice of K. is heard as electronically processed speech, made to sound as if being spoken by a computer. Taped viola and clarinet are played against live clarinet and viola to set the mood of uneasiness. A Chinese poem by Wen I-to, about the pure beauties of nature, is used as contrast. In addition, the cocktail party, (a mockery of political discussions that lead nowhere), uses a French-English adaptation of a text by Balzac (from “Le Peau de Chagrin”), to add near-comic relief. Texts from the “Diaries of Franz Kafka”, set in German and English, are used to comment on the ideas of “The Trial”. Certain limited aleatoric elements (the choral parts and the string parts) are combined with collage techniques, basic twelve-tone techniques, and quotations (in the cocktail party section) from Berlioz. An electronic tape was created by processing a recording of the opening and closing viola and clarinet parts. This adds symmetry (as does the repetition of the string parts). The entire composition works best with some dramatization of the texts.
An earlier version (the beginning and ending of this work) was written for my master’s dissertation at Harvard University, created while studying with Lukas Foss. Peter Kazaras and Susan McClary were narrators in this earlier version.
F. and M. narrator, tenor, bass, female chorus, fl, cl, vln, vla, vc, cb, and electronic tape. Tape realized at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center