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John Tavener Schuon Lieder (2003)

For 2 violins, viola, cello, piano, 4 Tibetan bowls and soprano

62 minutes

Schuon Lieder are settings of nineteen poems taken from more than three thousand written by Frithjof Schuon, most of them dating from the last four years of his life.  Many are mystical love songs of an almost palpable femininity, and they represent a distillation of Schuon’s magisterial and perennialist doctrine.  Each song is based on a series of 25 notes:  these are, in themselves, musical mirrors of divine love.  Like the poems, the songs are essences of a Sufi and child-like character.  Most are ecstatic and spontaneous reactions to the German poetry, and each is separated from the preceding song by one or more austere canons for string quartet, based on material from preceding songs.  The rigorous rhythmic permutations of the Tibetan temple bowls lend a hieratic and ritualistic aspect to the often sacred nature of the lieder.


© John Tavener

This work was commissioned by the Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, Illinois for its Centennial Season, by the Cheltenham International Festival of Music with funds provided by the Arts Council England and the Britten-Pears Foundation, and by the Schubert Ensemble Trust. The first performance was given by the Schubert Ensemble with Patricia Rozario at the Cheltenham International Festival of Music on Friday 16th July 2004.

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