...into the deep water... (2010-11)

On 28 March 1941, the English writer Virginia Woolf filled the pockets of her overcoat with stones and walked into the river Ouse near her home in Rodmell, East Sussex. Three weeks later, on 18 April, her body was found. A lifelong struggle with a troubled mental health had become unbearable. Woolf had suffered from a recurring mental condition characterized by unpredictable and disruptive mood swings. In her diaries, she often contemplated her ‘madness’, of which she was well aware, but which she couldn’t fully grasp. Contemporary Woolf scholars have, frequently and convincingly, described her condition as manic–depressive illness or bipolar disorder.

It is probably because of this mental condition, that understanding of human identity became one of the major themes in her literary work. Throughout her writing career she experimented extensively with the portraying of consciousness and the character of thought. One could say that through her writing, Woolf made sense out of her changing mental states and possibly gained control over her fragmented inner world.

…into the deep water… is a fictionalized portrait of Virginia Woolf. In the composition, text fragments are both sung and spoken. All sung text fragments are taken from Woolf’s diary from the 1925-1930 period. The spoken text fragments are adapted from the soliloquies of the character Rhoda in Woolf’s novel The Waves (1931). Rhoda is a melancholic character with a vivid imagination, who is always searching for what lies beneath the surface of appearances. She chooses solitude and often feels the desire to dissolve into nothingness. Ultimately, like her creator, Rhoda commits suicide.

In the prologue of …into the deep water…, the writer expresses the wish to understand the oddity of existence. The first part focuses on her writing during a manic episode. All seems well and she finds herself in a very creative mood. In the second part the mood changes; the writing stops and a breakdown follows. She finds herself in a depressive state. The third part focuses on the melancholic questioning of existence. The epilogue hints at her death by water.



    percussion (1)



    ca. 21’

Text fragments

    Virginia Woolf
Score sample