A Biographical Multimedia Mosaic...

Le Béguinage

The "little piano sonata" entitled Le Béguinage (1948-49) is one of Rued Langgaard's strangest compositions, with an 'autobiographical' content that is very dificult to interpret. Even the title is ambiguous: le béguinage means 'holiness' in French, but in a mocking, derogatory sense. So what we are looking at is music that constantly comments on and mocks itself - indeed, one can almost speak of a self-destructive tendency in this divided work, which is rather like a collage. Langgaard even built a theatrical element into the composition of his music; the idea is that it should sound as if the pianist is playing the piano to destruction.

The beginning of the manuscript of the 2nd Movement of "Le Béguinage", corresponding to the beginning of the music sample. Note the dating: "4.30 - 5 in the morning". Langgaard suffered from sleeplessness, and often got up at three or four in the morning to go for a walk in the dark, deserted streets of Ribe, after which he returned home and set to work. The dating of his manuscripts shows that many of his compositions from 1947-49 came into existence during these early morning walks.
The sample of music is reproduced with the permission of Engstrøm & Sødring A/S.

Listen to the beginning of the 2nd Movement.