for orchestra
Number of performers
3 (3rd also pic.) · 2 · 2 · bcl. · ssx. · 3 - 4 · 3 · 4 · 0 - hp. · cel. · man. - timp. · perc. (4 performers) - str. (14 · 12 · 10 · 8 · 6)
Composition year(s)
World premiere
Cologne, Philharmonie · WDR Symphony Orchestra · Peter Rundel, conductor
part I: 14'30''
part II: 17'30''
Extra title
Auftraggeber: Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln
WDR (Westgerman broadcasting Corporation Cologne)
Comment of the composer on the work

I wrote Instants between 2006 and 2007. At the time I was tired of hearing the “sweat” of the effort of composition in music and thus tried to avoid long-winded symphonic fluency as far as possible. Directness and spontaneity became ever more important to me, the intangible alignment of musical situations and gestures into consciousness, and the intuitive disalignment of figures into the imagery of the score.

The result was a series of miniature elements and surprising moments.

And one other thing was important to me: rigorous reductionism had produced a number of interesting works over the last century, but it had also all too often given an impression of poverty and monotony, and I became ever more aware that richness and multiplicity can also be a quality of art.

And a third point: for a long time I avoided repeating musical situations in my work. Now it became clear to me that this had not been the case for some of our greatest old masters, and that repetition can challenge one's creativity and fire the imagination. Thus Instants contain hints of sounds past, the variegated expansion of existing ideas, reminiscences gesturing towards earlier situations, allusions to moments already heard, and, thus, a tight web of relationships without the need for a formal schema.

Of course, the order of these moments is not left to chance. The logic of the steps from one to another was important to me, as was the overall dramaturgy of the piece.  In my work the first draft is always the shortest. Out of the need to keep to the logic of the exposition as tightly as possible, expansions, insertions and a variety of “growths”" are added to the piece.  The final result is twice as long as the first version, a length which in the case of the Instants I very much hope will not be too much for my audience.

Friedrich Cerha

Universal Edition