Heiner Goebbels’ Walden


Heiner Goebbels’ Walden sets texts by 19th century naturalist Henry David Thoreau, a grandfather of both modern environmentalism and civil disobedience. Thoreau’s experiment of living by Walden Pond — where civilization appeared only as the distant sound of a railroad — propagated a radical, solitary, spartan individualism promising a simple harmony with nature.

Conceived as a counterpoint to the metropolitan images conjured in his earlier work Surrogate Cities, Heiner Goebbels originally composed Walden in 1998 for the Ensemble Modern Orchestra with Bob Rutman narrating. For this new version Goebbels worked closely with Ensemble Klang’s regular line-up of saxophones, trombone, guitar, percussion and keyboards, adding string quintet and Keir Neuringer as the narrator.

With a number of specially-built instruments playing key roles — particularly the Bob Rutman designed ‘steel cello’ and ‘bow chimes’ which resonate their sound through large sheets of steel — the hour-long work is full of evocative sounds and features nine vibrant, image-rich movements.

“I have been waiting for such an effective and creative adaption of my Walden for 10 years. Ensemble Klang made it!” Heiner Goebbels


  • 1 Mar 2008, Kees van Baarenzaal, Den Haag



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