Fragments Of Ezra Pound 2 (detail) View full image

Alexander Polzin at the Aldeburgh Festival

Aldeburgh Festival 2016

10 – 26 June 2016

Alexander Polzin and György Kurtág: Documents of an artistic friendship

Sculptures and paintings by the Berlin artist Alexander Polzin will form the main exhibition at the Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk. The exhibition illustrates a 20-year-long intense artistic exchange between artist and composer.

In 1993, Kurtág was Composer in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, when he met stonemason and sculptor Alexander Polzin, he encouraged the 20-year-old to become artistically independent and to live as an artist. Against a background of reunification and the dissolution of the GDR, Alexander welcomed Kurtág to his studio and loaned him a sculpture entitled Penthesilea, it stood for two years next to the piano to inspire him. Three months later Polzin found a first sketch of Kurtág’s setting of Hölderlin’s Gestalt und Geist in his mailbox, with a dedication and the handwritten lines:

‘For Alexander Polzin with thanks for the Penthesilea, Gestalt und Geist – comes out of it - and thank you for the last [Geist] ... above all for your life's work. For me, these songs are perhaps the most important I have created so far. Gyuri‘.

This first creative exchange began talks a dialogue between composer and sculptor. In each case they communicated using their own language. With a sculpture, Requiem – Homage to György Kurtág, being created by Polzin for the composer’s 80th birthday in 2006.

A sign of the spiritual connection of both artists, Kurtág had the poster of the first exhibition of Dante Heads hung as the only visual inspiration opposite his piano for years.  In the Dovecote at Aldeburgh, Dante Heads is exhibited as part of a sound/art installation created with Kurtág and the sound artist/radio documentary maker Jean-Claude Kuner.

Two recently hewn, 9 tonne diabase stone sculptures entitled Fragments of Ezra Pound, sit in the shadow of the maltings on the Hepworth Lawn, they bear fragments of Pound’s poetry. Kurtág was fascinated by the small bronze maquette that stood for years in Polzin’s studio, Kurtág created a melody using Pound’s words which he dedicated to Polzin. 

Notes for Canto CXX

I have tried to write Paradise 

Do not move      

Let the wind speak        

that is paradise. 

Let the Gods forgive what I

have made

Let those I love try to forgive

what I have made.

There will be a Question and Answer with Alexander Polzin and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival and Roger Wright Chief Executive, in the Concert Hall, Snape on the 21st June 2016 at 5pm.