Zeitgeist
for string orchestra

Christos Hatzis
Composition Date: 1996
Duration: 00:14:00
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, String Orchestra

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x String orchestra
Programme Note:
The composer writes: ‘Zeitgeist (“spirit of the age”) is a personal reflection on the character of the arts today, music in particular. It is the result of an ongoing interest in cultural diversity and historical discontinuity, which are discernible characteristics of most of my work. By "historical discontinuity” I mean the approach to history whereby the artistic products of various eras are not viewed as successive links in a sequential chain, but rather as the pieces of a comprehensive puzzle, all of which are ever-present and functional in a timeless, multidimensional present. In this sense, Zeitgeist is a postmodern work: musical experiences from the past are taken out of their specific historical context and are assembled and juxtaposed in a way which reestablishes them as viable artistic experiences for here and now.

‘Formally the work is based on two short motives: the three-note motif which first appears unassumingly at measure 20 as the conclusion of an upwards moving gesture and the “French Overture” motif (dotted eighth-note followed by a sixteenth-note) which is pervasive in the Baroque-like music of the opening. The two motives combine into a larger five-note idea which appears almost ceaselessly throughout the work in various guises, from Shostakovich-like polyphony to takeoffs on disco music of the mid-late seventies and everything in between. This limited and clearly delineated structural framework helps to counterbalance the eclectic – and seemingly indiscriminate – exuberance of this work and build some creative tension between the audible surface and its internal architecture.

‘Food for thought as all this may be, I sincerely hope that the piece is enticing and meaningful to the musically less gluttonous audiences of today, who are becoming increasingly adverse to cultural spoon-feeding by the “serious music” establishment. Zeitgeist would have not been true to its name, had it failed in its effort to provide a balanced, low-calorie alternative to our information-saturated perceptual mechanisms. I believe that, ultimately, a work of art is in resonance with the spirit of its age when it fulfills some undefinable, yet widely agreed upon condition of relevance. I also believe that this condition is often divorced from contemporary prescriptions of “greatness”, be it complexity, simplicity, old-sounding, new-sounding, and/or other recipes which come and go with time.’

Premiere Information:
Premiered by the Camerata Orchestra with conductor Alexander Myrat at Athens Concert Hall, Greece, 22 May 1999.

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MI 1500 H367ze
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, String Orchestra
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • December 9, 1996
  • Type:
  • Print-music, published
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score ((iii), 62 p.) ; 30 cm.
    65 Pages
    Height: 43 cm
  • Language Information
  • Main language: English
  • Additional Information:
  • For string orchestra (12-10-8-8-4).
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Available For:

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  • Printed copies of this title are available from Promethean Editions. Please contact the publisher directly.
    Published by Promethean Editions

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