Interview with composer of ‘Mondrian’s dream’

The program ‘Victory: van Bingen tot Boogie’ successfully premiered on Saturday November 11th. For this program, Wishful Singing asked the three composers Joost Kleppe, Aspasia Nasopoulou and Lucas Wiegerink to write a composition. Starting point: The painting Victory Boogie Woogie of Piet Mondrian.

This week we take a look behind the scenes of the production of this program. This time featuring our conversation with Aspasia Nasopoulou, composer of ‘Mondrian’s Dream’ (or ‘Victory Boogie Woogie II’). She talks about what inspired her most in writing her composition.

Essence and shape

Aspasia about Mondrian’s Dream: “It’s a collage-like piece, in which the main interest of the painter has been given a voice: to show the essence of the world through the essence of color and form. His search forms the basis of the unfinished painting Victory Boogie Woogie.

Mondrian’s interest in theosophy strongly shaped these ideas. In the music we hear about them through a poem of R.M. Rilke from his last collection ‘The Sonnets to Orpheus’ ”.

Hour after hour

Mondrian’s method of working formed the starting point for Aspasia’s composition. Hans Janssen writes about this in his biography on Mondrian. “Tear and paste, take distance, look, change. Hour after hour.” These recurring short sentences show how Mondrian tried to get the very best result in his last painting, Victory Boogie Woogie. These phrases prominently occur in the composition.

Monk’s dream

Mondrian was impressed with the music of that time. In 1941 he met the young American jazz pianist Thelonious Monk in New York. According to Mondrian, Monk organized his musical material in an order-in-chaos-like manner. Aspasia: “As a tribute to this notion the characteristic melody of the song ‘Monk’s Dream’ appears in my work.”

In my mind

In 1943, the same period in which Mondrian painted the Victory Boogie Woogie, the Indian writer and philosopher D.V. Gundappa published a collection of poems. Two of these poems are used in the music to reflect Mondrian’s philosophical and existential questions. One of these poems is as follows:

I am delighted with the azure blue of the sky;

But its evening red does not please me much.

Is the cause of my sensation in blue? Or red?

Or is it in my mind that felt it?

(D.V. Gundappa, 1943)

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