In May 1948, the Austrian poet and author Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) met the Rumanian poet Paul Celan (1920-1970) in Vienna. It was the beginning of an impossible love. Their correspondence over nearly twenty years shows the continuing struggle for mutual love, attention, friendship and redeeming words from the other.
Herzzeit is a collection of 14 miniatures: 12 settings of fragments from Bachmann's letters and 2 settings of fragments from poems by Celan. The composition is structured in two parts. In the first part, two groups of three movements with sung letter fragments are framed by movements using spoken letter fragments. In the second part, another group of three movements with sung letter fragments is framed by the Celan settings.
The work is stripped of narrative and historical context. It zooms in on the experience of love from the perspective of the individual. Herzzeit may be considered a study on subjectivity; a piece about waiting and longing, sadness and despair, and keeping silence.
List of works