Le midi alla turca

Project | Max Brand Synthesizer (2009)
Composition for the Max Brand Synthesizer
Operators: Manon Liu Winter, Gregor Ladenhauf

For the Haydn Bicentennial in 2009 Katharina Tiwald and the head of the venue OHO (Offenes Kulturhaus Oberwart) came up with the idea of staging an electronic orchestra concert. The Oberwart Symphony was born – pulled out of a hat box in Katharina Tiwald’s short story. The Rotenturm Castle where the hat box was found, Haydn, the fragments of whose symphony have lain undisturbed in this hat box for centuries, and the Turks, who also left their mark on Haydn – these are the protagonists in the short story “The Oberwart Symphony”.

The symphony itself is divided into four movements. Each movement was to be written by a different composer using the means of electronic music and referring for orientation to the descriptions of the movements. I chose the first movement.

I turned to the first movement of Haydn’s seventh symphony, Le Midi, written in 1761, for my framework. In my composition, however, the length of a quarter note is equal to 7.5 seconds. By stretching time in this way, only a hint, a faint shimmer, of the original structure remains. The first five minutes of part A correspond to the Adagio; I use Rast makam (scales in Turkish classical music) in my piece. Part B, which corresponds to the Allegro, is in Hicaz makam, while part C (Allegro) integrates both makams.

”The first movement of Haydn’s Oberwart Symphony starts out forcefully, as an explosion of thunderclaps and kettledrums. The effect is not frightening, however, but joyous and exuberant. In a succession of contrasting themes we hear the landscape of Wart, the cadences of the Hungarian language that can drop a third from one syllable to the next. We hear the friction of consonants typical of the Croatian language. It almost seems as if Haydn has sent cawing crows flying through his music. We hear the mellifluous flow of the Hiencek language, the high, bright ui sounds bui, kui, ui, ui, ui. We hear the warbling of the flutes, the bump of the wheels of Romani wagons as they roll along the dirt roads, and finally we hear hidden, barely perceptible sounds, melodious fragments reminiscent of Jewish prayers. All this comes together in the first movement.

The unique aspect of this Haydnesque composition lies in the fact that it is based on an utterly different musical system, as we can clearly see in the sketches. Haydn spent decades in the service of a prince; as a composer he not only benefited from regular commissions but was expected to produce music on command. Given that, one would have to say that what he achieved here was indeed a revolutionary feat. The composition is clearly based on the tonal system of Turkish classical music (...). For our purposes we can say that Haydn stuck closely to the Hicaz makam (...). In Haydn’s Oberwart Symphony we hear a radical anticipation or a parody of everything that would later become fashionable in Western and Central Europe as “alla turca”. We hear hissing lines that trail off, cadences that tumble over the notes, that implore, gurgle, and sing strange little tunes. We hear Asia right next door.” (Katharina Tiwald, excerpt from “Die Oberwarter Sinfonie,” 2009)
(translation: Kimi Lum)

commissioned piece by OHO Offenes Kulturhaus Oberwart
18 09 2009 at Rotunde in Oberwart


Gregor Ladenhauf

likes to be caught in the middle and is working undogmatically but concentrated on a vision of immediacy. studied psycholoy, philosophy and dramatics, diploma at FH Salzburg MultiMediaArt with a thesis on algorithmic composition. active as musician, DJ and sounddesigner since 1999 in various constellations.


Max-Brand-Archiv, Langenzersdorf, Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Musiksammlung. | homepage

Manon Liu Winter

An intensive study of the music of the 20th century soon led her to collaborate with many composers. With programmes of music by the 2nd Viennese School and contemporary piano music, she performs as a soloist in Austria and at international festivals. experiments with the extension of the sounds of the piano using a prepared instrument and electronics; she also performs as an improviser. | homepage

  • Rotunde Oberwarth


adagio | exzerpt le midi alla turca | oberwarter sinfonie

Allegro | exzerpt le midi alla turca | oberwarter sinfonie

Allegro | exzerpt le midi alla turca | oberwarter sinfonie finale