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  • Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage 57th Street and Seventh Avenue Manhattan, NY (map)

ACFNY highly recommends the NY premiere ofOlga Neuwirth's Masaot / Clocks Without Hands, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and performed by the internationally renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. We are thrilled that this Austrian superstar of New Music is back in town!

Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage with Olga Neuwirth in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.


Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, Conductor
Heidi Melton, Soprano

MUSSORGSKY Prelude to Khovanshchina

NEUWIRTH Masaot / Clocks Without Hands (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)

WAGNER Selections from Götterdämmerung
·· Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey
·· Siegfried's Death and Funeral March
·· Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene

Conductor Valery Gergiev’s interpretation of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung has been called “insightful and electrifying” (The New York Times) and “beautiful” (The Guardian). Gergiev leads one of the legendary Wagner orchestras, the Vienna Philharmonic, in dramatic selections from the final opera in the Ring tetralogy. Wagner’s vivid orchestral depictions of the breaking dawn, Siegfried’s journey on the Rhine, his murder and devastating funeral march, and Brünnhilde’s noble and stirring immolation scene are dramatic climaxes of the opera. Like Wagner, Mussorgsky also painted a vivid picture of early morning in the atmospheric prelude to his epic opera Khovanshchina. The orchestra’s virtuosity is also on display in a new work titled Masaot / Clocks Without Hands by Olga Neuwirth and co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall.

Olga Neuwirth’s surreal Masaot / Clocks Without Hands, written for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, also manipulates musical cells. Culled from multiple sources and based on a dream, it combines fragments of melodies from different places and experiences from the life of Neuwirths’s grandfather. The composer compares this stream of memory to a musical “carousel” and to a clock without hands where time seems to dissolve. 


The worlds of sound in Olga Neuwirth's compositions are like twisting labyrinths, and are not fully revealed on first hearing. Looking for points of orientation, one is left groping: the pitches, instrumental timbres and formal processes – that is, all the factors that can give the ear a certain support – are either absorbed or wiped away by the music. Behind the baffling wealth of sound patterns lies a systematic deconstruction of everyday acoustic experience. Here, many things familiar from daily life are sharply distorted and put into new contexts. The less recognisable the sounds become, the more susceptible they and their tonal qualities become to the listeners' own associations. It's because the composer often resorts to extreme means to achieve this effect that her music is so interesting and exciting.

Olga Neuwirth deploys her entire creative imagination to escape from speechlessness at the irrationality of human existence, and yet, at the same time, to reveal this irrationality through music. So her works have many things in common, things that reflect the composer's diverse interests. An example of this is the formal structure and musical language of her compositions, whose sharp cuts, superimpositions, rapid sequences of contrasts, and montages of heterogeneous materials betray strong influences from film.

In addition, Olga Neuwirth sees the application of all the possibilities of technology in her work as a great challenge. Here, it's the live-electronic medium that plays the central role: the constant interplay of instrumental sounds and the artificially generated sounds of live-electronic distortions (one often doesn't know anymore which source is which) create a state of tension which is deliberately introduced into the music as an expressive means.

Revealing the irrational – this goal calls for arresting forcefulness, but also for anger and dissent in the face of current convention. With their wealth of references, their uncompromising character, and their aggressive appropriation of materials, Olga Neuwirth's compositions demand a revaluation of everyday values, even where there seems to be nothing to question. This, precisely, is the cause of the numerous grotesque elements and the grim humour that keeps emerging from what has been composed. Both are, at the same time, forms of survival and protest against everyday insanity, and thus a means of combatting the unfeelingness and incapacity for communication of modern life. So Olga Neuwirth's works seek to be understood as a permanent resistance to the ab-surdities of daily life; their diversity of sounds conveys a field of associations which can intensify the listener's own need to observe and contemplate his daily environment attentively. Naturally, this presupposes willingness to listen reflectively.

Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
57th Street and Seventh Avenue
Manhattan, NY