My Illness Is the Medicine I Need for soprano, violin, violoncello and piano (2002)

Text: Interviews are from the Benetton magazine Colors; Editing of text: Thomas Larcher
Work commissioned by Festival Spannungen 2002
WP: 13.06.2002, Heimbach (DE) | Juliane Banse (soprano), Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Nikolaj Schneider (violoncello), Thomas Larcher (piano)

My illness is the medicine I need.
I think I’ll stay here until I die, I’m tired of life. I don’t like freedom. The world frightens me.
Eat and sleep. Eat and sleep. The monotony here kills you.
I like it when people ask me the time. It’s almost a conversation.
I don’t know why I’m here. I’ve no idea. I think people are brought here to be killed. I’m scared to death. Death will come to me covering all my body. And I will be silent forever.
Once they give you an injection you instantly stop hearing voices.

Audio sample

Andrea Lauren Brown (soprano), Christoph Poppen (violin), Thomas Demenga (cello), Thomas Larcher (piano) | CD IXXU

Programme note
The texts were taken from issue 45 of Benetton’s “Color’s” magazine, entitled “Madness/Follia” and with photo-reportage of psychiatric hospitals from around the world. The patients’ perspective on reality is reflected in haunting pictures and, for the most part, short, concise texts.

From these texts, excerpts from interviews with the inmates, I selected a few fragments: sentences, loaded with a strong inner force, which do not claim to represent these people in their entirety. Rather they illuminate, stroboscopically, small corners of their world.

Musical and structural concerns determined the ‘instrumentalising‘ of the texts. In some instances, I also composed – in a Schoenbergian manner – against the text. Accordingly, the voice is only one of four instruments in this cycle. Written for soprano, the songs nevertheless avoid many areas of expression common to both classical and modern music.

Often the singer speaks with and to herself. She is looking (in line with the texts) for her own self, groping for her own reality. Consequently, the voice is rarely used espressivo or in an exalted manner but sustains a pallid tone which leaves for the words. In these passages, the voice is only triggering processes that take place in other instruments.

Thomas Larcher