VOLUME 1 – Germany, Austria, Switzerland; the pre-war years, unrest…

For the first concert in the series we invited Rolf Somann to share some of his selected texts with us. Rolf was born 1951 in Berlin, the son of a pacifist and grandson of a Nazi party member. He is a language teacher, translator and music lover, who amongst other things, translated Mozart’s letters into Dutch.

“Language and music are able to connect people. The connecting power of music is more evident, because languages can also separate people from each other. Fortunately, music is a universal language and cannot evoke any misunderstandings. After wars, languages become silent, because war plunges culture into chaos, meaning and meaninglessness. While the language stutters and flees into the sound, the music is able to make a new beginning. Take the flute … “

Rolf Somann read excerpts from Bertolt Brecht An die Nachgeborenen (1935), Heinrich Böll Nicht nur zur Weihnachtszeit (1951), Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz Der Reisende (1938), Paul Celan Todesfuge (1945)  and schtzngrmm (1957) by Ernst Jandl

The title “schtzngrmm” refers to his version of the word “Schützengraben” It is an experimental poem in which he tells the sounds of war only with combinations of letters, which sound like gunfires or detonating missiles…
schtzngrmm schtzngrmm t-t-t-t
t-t-t-t grrrmmmmm t-t-t-t
s———c———h tzngrmm tzngrmm tzngrmm grrrmmmmm schtzn
t-t-t-t schtzngrmm schtzngrmm tssssssssssssss
grrrrrt grrrrrrrrrt
scht t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t scht
tzngrmm tzngrmm t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t scht
grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr t-tt

Ernst Jandl himslef reading schtzngrmm

VOLUME 2 – Russia

The speaker for the second programme was the Georgian-born, Nina Targan Mouravi. Nina is an artist, performer and translator who attended  the prestigious Surikov Art Institute in Moscow. Halfway through the six-year study she returned to Georgia and graduated as a book illustrator at the State Academy in Tbilisi. Since 1991, she has lived in the Netherlands where she is active as a translator of Russian and Georgian poetry and prose, as well as an artist and graphic designer. In 2017, one of her works was nominated for the Dutch portrait prize and exhibited in Soestdijk Palace. She has portrayed writer Henk Bernlef and pianist Nino Gvetadze, among others. www.russischepoezie.nl

Nina selected the following powerful and touching poems:

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) – ‘Courage’ (1941) and ‘In memory of Valja, diptych’ (1942)

Arseny Tarkovsky (1907-1989) – Two poems in memory of Marina Tsvetaeva (1941 & 1965)

Rasul Gamzatov (1923-2003) – ‘Cranes’ (1965)


Где твоя волна гремучая,
Душный, черный морской прибой,
Ты, крылатая, звезда падучая,
Что ты сделала с собой?

Как светилась ты, милостивица,
Все раздаривая на пути.
Встать бы, крикнуть бы, воспротивиться,
Подхватить бы да унести –

Не удержишь – и поздно каяться:
Задыхаясь, идешь ко дну.
Так жемчужина опускается
В заповедную глубину.                                           Сентябрь 1941

English translation by  Yevgeny Bonver

We know what is now on History’s scales,

What is, in the world, going now.

The hour of courage shew our clock’s hands.

Our courage will not bend its brow.

None fears to die under the bullet’s siege,

None bitters to lose one’s home here, —

And we will preserve you, O great Russian speech,

O Russian great word, we all bear.

We’ll carry you out, clear and free, as a wave,

Give you to our heirs, and from slavery save.

Forever!                                                                   September 1941