Words and Music
Radio play for two speakers and chamber ensemble (1987)
Samuel Beckett wrote his radio play »Words and Music« in November 1961, but the next year, shortly after it was broadcast by the BBC, he withdrew it. Until the 1980s, dissatisfied with his own work, Beckett withheld the text. Then he befriended the American composer Morton Feldman, whom he got to know first through a memorable encounter at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin, and above all through their collaboration on the opera »Neither«. In 1977, Beckett asked Feldman to write music for »Words and Music«. For Feldman it was »to some extent a labour of love, which I happily undertook«, and so »Words and Music« was first performed in1987, the year Feldman died, at the American Beckett Festival of Radio Plays.
Beckett devoted himself to the form of the radio play in his own way. The characters »Words« and »Music«, the latter of whom is represented by an instrumental ensemble, encounter one another. Both of them attempt to entertain the old, lonely Croak, and to comfort him by reacting to his key words »Love«, »Age« and »Face« in their respective mediums of expression. Together with two narrators and the Orchestra Academy of the Staatskapelle Berlin, the young French conductor Maxime Pascal develops a form of live radio play that rediscovers Beckett’s and Feldman’s understanding of the theatricality of music, language and space.