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Philosophical Nutcracker.

Fantasising, profound reflecting and quietly daydreaming; music makes you think. That’s why composers like to go to philosophers, political thinkers, and mystics, sometimes to hold a mirror up to the world, and other times to express a political preference. Inflammatory lyrics invigorate the mind, and meditative reflections stimulate life’s mysteries. In this episode of Theme, we’ll listen to some recent and some older compositions featuring a philosophical disposition. The lyrics are made by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michail Bakoenin and are from the mystic bible, the Kybalion. Composers Steve Reich, Tibor Szemzö, Robert Ashley, Louis Andriessen, and Peter Adriaansz shine their light on these lyrics.


  1. Robert Ashley: ‘She Was A Visitor’ (1967), for vocals and choir/ensemble, on Robert Ashley: Tap Dancing in the Sand. Ensemble MAE + Nathan Fuhr (vocals). Unsounds 15U CD
  2. Steve Reich: ‘Proverb’ (1995), for choir and ensemble, on Steve Reich: City Life-Proverb. Theatre of Voices + members of the Steve Reich Ensemble conducted by Paul Hillier. Nonesuch 7559-79430-2 CD
  3. Tibor Szemzö: ’Tractatus’ (1991-1995), sound collage (featuring narrators and piano sounds), on Tibor Szemzö: Tractatus. Tibor Szemzö (sound collage). Leo Records LR227 CD
  4. Peter Adriaansz: ‘Stereo’ (2016-2020) from ‘Environments’, for chamber ensemble, electronics and vocals, on Peter Adriaansz: Environments. Ensemble Klang and Michaela Riener (vocals). Ensemble Klang Records EKR11 CD
  5. Louis Andriessen: ‘Mausoleum’ (1979, rev. 1981), for two high baritones and orchestra, on Louis Andriessen: Mausoleum-Hoketus. Asko-Schönberg Ensemble and Charles van Tassel + David Barick (baritones) conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw. Donemus Highlights CV20 CD


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