Einhorn is inspired by a poem by Rilke that I had been thinking about working with for more than ten years. Love creates a space in which the impossible becomes real: how amazing is that?! Einhorn was commissioned by Lydia Van Dreel and is dedicated to her with vast affection.
O dieses ist das Tier, das es nicht giebt.
Sie wußtens nicht und habens jeden Falls
— sein Wandeln, seine Haltung, seinen Hals,
bis in des stillen Blickes Licht — geliebt.
Zwar war es nicht. Doch weil sie’s liebten, ward
ein reines Tier. Sie ließen immer Raum.
Und in dem Raume, klar und ausgespart,
erhob es leicht sein Haupt und brauchte kaum
zu sein. Sie nährten es mit keinem Korn,
nur immer mit der Möglichkeit, es sei.
Und die gab solche Stärke an das Tier,
daß es aus sich ein Stirnhorn trieb. Ein Horn.
Zu einer Jungfrau kam es weiß herbei —
und war im Silber-Spiegel und in ihr.
Rilke: Sonnets to Orpheus II:4
Oh this beast is the one that never was.
They didn’t know that; unconcerned, they had
loved its grace, its walk, and how it stood
looking at them calmly, with clear eyes.
It hadn’t BEEN. But from their love, a pure
beast arose. They always left it room.
And in that heart-space, radiant and bare,
it raised its head and hardly needed to
exist. They fed it, not with any grain,
but always just with the thought that it might be.
And this assurance gave the beast so much power,
it grew a horn upon its brow. One horn.
Afterward it approached a virgin, whitely —
and was, inside the mirror and in her.
translated by Stephen Mitchell
When I was first thinking about the poem in the summer of 1997, I asked my friend Hunter Ochs to record the German and I recorded the English translation.
Here’s a score of the piece in pdf format.
The premiere recording of the piece is on Lydia’s 2014 CD New Millennium Music for Horn.
If you would like to perform Einhorn, please follow the paypal link below and we will send you all the performance materials. Normally, the charge is $50, but for these pandemic days, I have set the price to pay-as-you-can, with thanks for your support of this low-key way of publishing.