New Music at Carnegie Hall: Carnegie Hall Commissions
Commission at a Glance
Osiris
Matthias Pintscher
Recorded on February 25, 2008
at Isaac Stern Auditorium / Ronald O. Perelman Stage


Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, Conductor
Pierre Boulez appears courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft MbH.


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Notes on the Work

During my first reflections about the conception of a work scored for large orchestra, which later was to be entitled Osiris, I came across a work created by Joseph Beuys in the 1970s, which shows scattered individual parts (cardboard patterns, originally created for Filzanzug [felt suit]), mounted in a free-rhythmic sequence on bare, untreated canvas. This impressive piece was given the name “Osiris” by Beuys and inspired me, over and above the immediate impression in encountering this special work, to immerse myself in the Osiris myth and to examine the meaning of this subject over the centuries.

The fate of the death of Osiris, the god of fertility, who was the son of the goddess of the sky, Nut, and the earth-god, Geb, stands at the forefront of my observation. After he is murdered by his brother Seth, the god of chaos, Osiris remains in the kingdom of death, where he continues to work as a judge in the afterlife. In Egyptian mythology, the death of every person is closely bound up with the destiny of Osiris. I was particularly moved by the figure of Isis, Osiris’s loving sister and consort. After her husband is crushed by his furious brother, through the power of her love, she is able to reassemble him and revive the reconstructed body of her lover through the broad pulsating of her wings. Isis had hunted out the separate, dispersed parts of her consort in a despairing, enduring search along the banks of the Nile. Out of this comes a formal structure for me, consisting of various stages of fragmentation and reanimation: the initial condition of unity, the disintegration into individual parts and their reconstruction and metamorphosis— a genuine musical process. In this work I have sought to create larger connections, which can encapsulate Osiris as one of the most complex figures in Egyptian mythology in musical form.

Osiris is dedicated to Pierre Boulez.

—Matthias Pintscher