“In case I don’t get to finishing this,” wrote the composer, “somebody might like to try to work out the idea, and the sketch that I’ve already done would make more sense to anybody looking at it with this explanation.”
Inspired by these tempting words, director Christoph Marthaler, conductor Titus Engel, and stage designer Anna Viebrock develop their own highly individual perspective on an uncompleted project by American composer Charles Ives (1875–1954): the Universe Symphony, one of the great utopian works of the 20th century. It is utopian because Charles Ives conceived it as a sonic event that would explode all classical forms of performance—and also because he never completed it, instead continually composing it anew. It is an unfinished jumble consisting of notes, sheets of sketches, and pages of score.
Using only sections of the work that were actually composed, Marthaler, Engel and Viebrock create a scenic and musical environment in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum in which instrumental soloists, together with the Bochumer Symphoniker and an ensemble of actors, dancers and singers, fantasize a future out of the present. Other compositions by Charles Ives independent of the Universe Symphony fill the gaps in the incomplete universe.
Christoph Marthaler (stage director), Peter Sch...
A documentary by Anne-Kathrin Peitz