→ Performances
In January
music for four-part mixed chorus
with words by → Paulo Suess

ca. 8 Min.
composed 1988, first performance 1989
→ Download pdf 415 kB


The piece came to life during my academic studies. I analyzed the polytonal counterpoint in it. Each of the four voices is assigned to a diatonic scale (soprano 1b, alto 1#, tenor 3b, bass 3#), occasionally I discuss this scale in a tonal matter as a major or minor scale. This however is limited to the individual voices. In harmony tonal inflections appear which form completely different combinations. Although the music thoroughly reflects the text, the structure of the poem also takes an impact on the musical form. The piece is well composed and there are no strophic repetitions. Different movement patterns are composed into the prosody of the text as the rhythmic basis.
Paulo Suess, the author of the text, was an Indian representative of the Catholic Church in Brazil at the time of the composition. He writes his poems in Portuguese and translates them himself into German.


In January

by → Paulo Suess

Each night I return home
I stumble over human bundles,
the obstacles of the wordly gallop;
Under blankets made of newspaper
they withstand the rain
and the cold gazes of the public illumination.
It is January.

Dreams and bodies
thrown onto the pavement
on the street of the 31st March.
The shelter of decaying humans
with daily duties
delaying death,
like flights during a storm.

Tell me, Mercury,
planetary messenger,
Is life just dependency on good connections with the police,
comparable to forbidden gambling?
Or is it the reliance on the good nose of the street sweeper who is capable of distinguishing
between the human perspiration and the foul odour of waste.

Each night I have the same nightmare:
I lay my head into a guillotine whose blade quivers
but does not fall since the death penalty has been abolished in this country.
The guillotine becomes a yoke
and I stretch my neck, pull a cart, roar and shout:
„Independence or death“
As if I was the emperor at the Ipiranga river.
The fear of the appointed hour rebels against the daily repression.

Each night, while rocking in my hammock,
I dream of a world
In which we also nourish the bundles on the pavement with sweet corn; with a soft voice I invent
the chant of a continent without human rejection where everybody is necessary.

It is still too early to plow the earth and cultivate the cornfield.
I have to throw the hydrated lime of my words
onto the dead bodies of the lie.
It is still too early for happy noise.
It is a time of small and sour grapes.
The river rises and no one knows how high.
It is still January.

Explanatory note:
31st March: On March 31st the military in Brazil started a coup and deposed the democratic regime of President Joao Goulart. Afterwards the generals of the country governed.
Ipiranga river: Dom Pedro, the son of the Brazilian King, is to have let out the cry of Ipiranga on September 7th, 1822 between Santos and Sao Paulo. On October 12th, 1822 Dom Pedro was named emperor of Brazil. Thus the break with Portugal and the way into independency was performed.


First performance:
1989, April 22nd: cultural centre Schlachthof, Bremen; soloist-ensemble: → Ulrike Janßen soprano, → Karen Jürgens alto, → Christian Gerds tenor, → Helge Rowold bass and Friedemann Schmidt-Mechau conduct.