January 2014 | On the Bachmann - Celan connection
In May 1948, the Austrian poet and author Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) met the Rumanian poet Paul Celan (1920-1970) while studying philosophy in Vienna. This was the beginning of a tragic love relationship. Their correspondence, first published in 2009, bears witness to an impossible love spanning nearly 15 years.
Jan-Willem van Herpen takes Bachmann's letters to Celan as a starting point for a new work for female voice and piano. A poetic script has been constructed out of fragments from these letters and two of Celan's poems. Stripped of narrative and historical context, the work will zoom in on the subjective experience of love; a piece about waiting and longing, sadness and despair, and keeping silence.