II Berlin, Germany 2011

A composer uses time as his primary tool. The whole process of writing music is merely a carving of time.

 

Yet the writing of an opera happens fully outside of time. And although the writing happens in a timeless place, the storyline anchors the opera in a very specific time and place.

            During the past couple of weeks of composing, I have been completely removed from society. I’ve remained alone in my home; the world is a blur. I have had nothing but the score for company – and even the score is done, so there is not much creative work left to do.

            Every morning time contorts, becomes irrelevant and elusive – in order to recoil only in sleep. It feels as if every second of eternity happens at once, but there is nothing dramatic about it, everything around is flatly beautiful.

            It is Sunday night going into to Monday. I am finishing the percussion of the last scene, page 300, page 350, page 400. I arrive at the last page, fill in the gaps, the clocks shows three thirty and to my complete surprise suddenly I don’t have to write a thing. It is snow-like – more nothing than something. Very, very soft. Berlin feels surreal, a lifeless place, not a single ambulance outside, not a single taxi, Keiser Friedrich Street stands empty, Otto Suhr Alley stands still, around the castle the statues stand unchanging, all windows are dark, main roads are empty, traffic lights blink rhythmically in the emptiness.

            There is an accuracy of present time, of this act of working in a timeless fashion to create something so very specific to another time.

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