YOUNG AUSTRIAN AND AMERICAN COMPOSERS: “CONNECTIONS” | mise-en ensemble | Austrian Cultural Forum | New York, USA [25/05/2016]
Audio Recording: ACFNY | Video Recording: Bernhard Gál | Video-Editing: Belma Bešlić-Gál


Just before the nightmare of the second world war started to explode, the Italian politician and philosopher Antonio Gramsci famously wrote in one of his many prison notebooks: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Today, we truly live in a time of such morbid symptoms. […] The dangers of doing nothing are real: there are uncomfortable echoes, among those morbid symptoms, of Europe’s history of fascism. Just look back at the past few months in Europe: neo-Nazis marching through the centres of our capitals and attacking refugees and foreignlooking bystanders; extreme right-wing governments from Poland to Croatia […]. The refugee crisis – in which a million more people will journey to Europe during 2016 – can’t be solved if the Syrian crisis is not solved. And it can’t be solved unless more than 20 different players (from US to Russia, Israel to Saudi Arabia, Turkey to Qatar etc.), including European Union member states, find a common language. If there is no common solution, the only common thing we can expect is war. […]

That is why, among other things, we need a Pan-European Movement for Democracy. To pose the question of whether we want war or not. Without a Pan-European Movement […] democracy doesn’t have a chance. Europe doesn’t have a chance. If the “morbid symptoms” which occur daily in all corners of Europe are not constrained to any national state but are the outcome of a deeper problem rooted in the EU itself, then the solution also has to be European. […] If we are not able to restore and reinvent democracy in Europe, we are not just sleepwalking but running into a catastrophe. And the name of this catastrophe, once the period of interregnum is over, is war.

Some might ask, isn’t a Pan-European Movement something that has already been tried? Yes, of course. […] Why should we try again? The answer is very simple: If we don’t try again, we can’t even fail again – we have already lost.

Srećko Horvat: If we don’t restore democracy in Europe… [02/2016 I theguardian]


We are living in a time of morbid symptoms. Obviously, The End of History was nothing of the sort. What we are currently witnessing is the awakening of the beast – the horsemen of the Apocalypse, crawling out of the darkest moments of human history.

Bilećanka poem has been written by the Slovenian socialist Milan Apih during his incarceration in the concentration camp for political prisoners in Bileća (Bosnia and Herzegovina), which was one of many one that existed in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the period between the World Wars. Three years later, Bosnian-Jewish partisan Oskar Danon composed the famous arrangment of the song, that soon after became a sort of unofficial hymn of the Yugoslav Anti-Fascist Movement. This song is a conceptual basis of my composition.

Electronics (Sound Projection) is composed from the original recordings of some of the most important political events in Austria, along with a number of significant developments that occurred during the period between 1914 and 1938 in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in chronological order, starting with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The acoustic foundation of the sound projection is the only preserved sound recording of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bertha von Suttner (symbolically, to this day, there has been no one who could understand her words in the recording). The speech from the Pan-European Congress in 1934 could very well be delivered today…

The instrumental part mirrors the passiveness and the manipulability of the Masses, symbolizing that ultimately the go-with-the-flow Philosophy is the predominant Doctrine of the majority of the peoples. Consequently, these musicians are metaphorical embodiments of those silent bystanders.

Belma Bešlić-Gál [04/2016]


Duration: ca. 13‘
Instrumentation: Bass flute, Bass clarinet, Trombone, Piano, Violin, Contrabass, 4CH Sound Projection, Red lights
Equipment: Computer, Audio System

List of performances

YOUNG AUSTRIAN AND AMERICAN COMPOSERS: “CONNECTIONS” | mise-en ensemble | Austrian Cultural Forum | New York, USA [25/05/2016]

Photos [live @acfny_2016]

YOUNG AUSTRIAN AND AMERICAN COMPOSERS: “CONNECTIONS” | mise-en ensemble | Austrian Cultural Forum | New York, USA [25/05/2016]
Photo Credits: Bernhard Gál

Bilećanka [org.text]


Sred pušaka bajoneta,
straže oko nas,
tiho kreće naša četa
kroz bilećki kras.

Čuje se odjek koraka
po kamenju hercegovskom;
Hej, haj, hoj!
Hej, haj, hoj!

Daleko si zavičaju,
mi prognani smo,
prognaše nas zbog zločina
što te ljubimo.

Čuje se odjek koraka
po kamenju hercegovskom;
Hej, haj, hoj!
Hej, haj, hoj!

Osta majka bez svog sina
žena bez druga
Pusta osta kuća njina
Gorka sudbina

Čuje se odjek koraka
po kamenju Hercegovskom;
Hej, haj, hoj!
Hej, haj, hoj!

Kroz progonstvo i trpljenje,
kroz tamnice mrak
Dolazi nam novi život,
čujte mu korak.

Čuje se odjek koraka
po kamenu hercegovskom
Hej, haj, hoj!
Hej, haj, hoj!

Milan Apih [Zatvor u Bileći, 1940]