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Last Notes From Endenich

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Printed programme for British première in Manchester June 11th 1978

Last Notes From Endenich started life purely as a drawing without notion of performance. Self evidently it relates to the orthographics of notation (stave, note forms etc.) which have always enchanted me in their own right. As I worked on it in trance-like fashion I was reminded of Schumann’s final years in the asylum at Endenich and the many fragments of music he made there which Clara destroyed to protect his reputation. How did they bend away from coherence: was it graphically? Of course by 1975 I had made many graphic scores of my own and had helped perform those by others (Cardew, Cage etc.) but this seemed to have an autonomous existence as it hovered between art and music. It was the distinguished French composer Jean Yves Bosseur who suggested its use as a template for improvisation and it was he who, on a pilgrimage to Endenich itself, discovered the last actual surviving melody by Schumann. This melody from the Endenich period here serves as a starting point for the players of the Ensemble in their improvisational reading of the graphic score. The A that occurs at the ‘beginning’ of the drawing (i.e. on the left) seems to represent by coincidence the constant A natural that sounded tinitically through the composer’s head. Though the musicians here are performing a drawing, the drawing they work from itself performs a piece.