la petite girafe Miscellaneous


The little giraffe finds a new friend.

Pentathlon —
A story with the little giraffe

It’s about time to introduce a new figure: Fünffusssaurus. For reasons too obvious to mention we will not translate this into English. Fünffussaurus was purchased a while ago for ten-something at an online store. Before it was mounted—guarded by the severe look of the little giraffe—it remained quarantined for some days, just to be sure LPG doesn’t contract the dragon’s flue (which would be unimaginably frightening). As every construction kit is delivered with some extra building blocks, I chose to deviate a little from the construction manual; hence the name. Originally this was meant to be a dragon, but now it rather looks like a worm, though. A wyvern without wings. A lindworm-centipede-crossbreed. Whatsoever.

Locking horns

Once ready to become subject to this very blog, we’d like to get to know to our new figure a little bit closer. Let’s stage a competition and see which tiny beast performs better, Fünffusssaurus or the local heroine, LPG. There are five categories—quasi the pentathlon for the pipsqueaks—in which Fünffusssaurus will challenge the little giraffe: Height, width, flexibility, fragility and popularity. Let’s start with the first match.

Who’s taller?

Let’s face it: giraffes are known to be … tall. There is no chance for Fünffusssaurus of winning this stage, is there? Have a look at the picture. While Fünffusssaurus keeps struggling with mother gravity to gain some extra inches, LPG is stablest when raising her nose up to the skies. A clear point for the crowd favourite.

Preliminary result:

Who’s longer?

Fünffusssaurus captures a very decisive victory. If we look at the image, LPG measures 2.5 inches from ground to ground, whereas FFFSSS exceeds the range of the meter. Frankly, it was rather challenging to somehow fit FFFSSS into the meter. Other than that, the little giraffe reaches from the Yangtze River to the Amur River, but FFFSSS spreads all over the EU, Russia, Kazakhstan and Africa as well.

Preliminary result:

Who’s more flexible?

Let’s see, which of the two has a more dislocatable body and is overall more flexible. We already know that the little giraffe is very flexible. But how about FFFSSS? Let’s get down to it and count their joints. The little giraffe comes up with three ball-and-socket joints, all of them are sited at its neck. However, FFFSSS boasts about its tremendous amount of eleven such joints. Apart from that, also its feet are movable, no less than its tail and its horns. Thus, there is no need to dispute who’s gonna win this round, just have a look at the picture to verify the results.


It is self-evident that LPG is rather fragile than indestructible. However, the same is true of our new friend, FFFSSS. We might count all possible items of each character that are likely to get lost. We might also take into consideration that the little giraffe is so fragile, it can’t even stand at all, once one of its legs is broken again. We might also observe, that FFFSSS has five feet that stick together but loosely whereas its underjaw is keen to fall off like a denture at any moment. I would like not to declare LPG or FFFSSS the winner of this match, though, for both competitors are just way too fragile to make a call. It’s a draw.

Giraffes are popular.

Finally when it gets down to popularity, the little giraffe remains undefeatable thus far. FFFSSS has not recieved fanpost yet, whereas LPG has (indeed!). Giraffes are somewhat popular animals and when people see that they are occasionally fed to the lions in a zoo in Copenhagen for instance, many people get upset easily. As for FFFSSS, the popularity of a hitherto undiscovered species is undefined or null.

la petite girafe Miscellaneous

La photo: La maladie

Oh no! Is it sick?
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

A List Of Yellow Items


La petite girafe liste …
Yellow Items

  1. The Yellow Elephant from Prague. A clay figure dating back to at least 2014 when it was purchased in one of those many tiny shops overcrowded by international tourists you find at every corner in the Czech capital. In contrast to other cities, Prague offers loads of hand-crafted things at such places at vastly reasonable prices. I’m still in doubt whether or not this is really meant to be an elephant, but its most prominent features—the very big ears and a trunk—purport that we can consider it one.
  2. Adhesive Tape. There is not very much to say about that item. Everyone has one somewheres at home, however I try to avoid using it most of the time as taping something together proves to be the next best thing more often than not.
  3. A self-stick notepad. There are many ways they might turn out to be handy. Whenever I get down to extracting the parts from a score I really love them and eventually my desk would become a yellow or white and red carpet—all covered with sticky notes. Cut into thin slices they are also very useful for playing compositions on the piano that require some extended playing techniques which usually means to do something on a specific string of the instrument. Piano strings are not arranged in a standardized way. Thus it might turn out that the Gb1-string(s) are not at the very same place on a concert hall’s piano as on the piano you have at home; hence it is definitely a good idea to attach some (removable) indentations to be sure you hit the right tones and strings on an unfamiliar instrument. Slices of sticky notes attached to the dampers can do this job wonderfully for you.
  4. A yellow blackboard chalk. I love colours—in nearly any context. Explaining something on the blackboard, you can easily group some information that belongs together. I purchased my set of chalks in 2019 I think. Due to the pandemic it has not been used very often since then.
  5. Hermann Erpf’s Lehrbuch der Instrumentation. Honestly, did I really think I could retrieve some inspiriation concerning the way of how to orchestrate my own compositions from this very book? Perhaps some teachers will bring forward the argument that this book needs to be considered a standard reference. I read it. At least.
  6. Panther’s immunization card. Unfortunately no longer needed as our pet cat passed away in January )-;
  7. A yellow fluorescent marker. I’ve hardly ever used it, but it’s yellow, though.
  8. Some glue. Even the paste itself is yellow. After attaching it to paper, it would stick together really well. A bit frightening, isn’t it?
  9. The little giraffe. Well, that’s pretty obvious.
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

The brush


La petite girafe et l’object:
The brush

Brushes and mallets are widely known as the objects which percussionists use in order to play on their instruments. Let’s consider a piano a percussion instrument. What can we do with a brush as pianists?

Obviously we might make use of it to scratch over the strings. Naturally playing on the instrument in such a way makes commonly more sense if we keep the right pedal down, but we should also take into consideration only scratching or striking the strings with the brush and leave the pedal in piece. I’ve tried out both ways while composing a new work for piano solo recently and, frankly, I was pretty disappointed. One might assume (I did!) that using a brush on the strings returns a somewhat spectacular and unusual sound, but it just didn’t. However, it’s quite nice to have the following effects: Gently tap over the treble strings and combine it with another playing technique inside the piano or some notes played on the keys. The resuly is quite silent and I would rather not use it in an orchestral work or in a piece for a large ensemble (needs to be amplified, considering the fact that such pieces are usually being staged in larger concert halls).

Another nice way to use it—and indeed this one is quite similar to the one described above—is to scratch over the section of the strings between the tuning screws and the bridge. Again this will produce only very fragile sounds. We might also consider to strike or scratch over the crossbeams with a brush. Again, the result is quite weak. Applying other mallets for that provides by far more options of creating and handling interesting thuds and noises.

Other possible playing techniques involving a brush which I haven’t tried out because they didn’t seem promising at all to me could be:

  • Scratching over the keys with the brush (consider playing Lachenmann’s Guero instead)
  • Using the handle of the brush (mind that not every brush handle is made of the same material)
  • Tapping the soundboard with the brush (again—consider using other mallets instead)
  • Scratching over the dampers (only do this if you hate your instrument)
  • Strike or scratch over the wooden parts of the piano (again, the result would be rather not interesting)
  • Applying the brush to the little giraffe (for obvious reasons)

la petite girafe Miscellaneous

La photo: A Vitascope

The little giraffe is looking into a lense of an unfinished wooden vitascope.
Ensemble published by UE Vocal Work

Marley’s Ghost

Marley’s Ghost
for baritone and ensemble (2020)


«Marley was dead: to begin with.» Thus Charles Dickens begins one of his most famous narratives, the name of which literally means ‹a Christmas song›. Dead, or let‘s better call it well-worn, copybook and totally hackneyed by being cinematized a little bit too often, is basically everything today, which comes close to brushing against this advent faerie tale that has been pancaked so very often in order to fit into any TV show where Bill Murray might appear. Why, this being the case, starting here?

Christmas comes back every year, come hell or high water. As dead as old Marley may appear—that is to say «dead as a door-nail»—as vitally he is still haunting ubiquitously as a ghost. The world has been most ardous ever since and of all things it‘s Christmas when we expect even the grumpiest fellows to come in with apparent brouhaha of felicity. In the middle of the mess the big guns are hauled out: bell-roars, glistening candlelight-beflickered straw stars and an e‘en celestial haze of pathos and liquorice. All humbug!

In my music one can hear all the ingredients of the humbug merged in such a way that a dramaturgical course arises out of it. This pathway runs along selected passages from Dickens‘s novel. The narrator eventually turns into the ghost of his own figure.

«Marley‘s Ghost» was composed in 2017 for the baritone Georg Klimbacher and the pianist Andreas Fröschl, who premiered the piece in the same year at Vienna‘s Arnold Schoenberg Center. I wrote the version for baritone and ensemble in the spring of 2020. The orchestration means a recreation in many regards: A differentiation in layers of tonal colours led to new harmonic illuminations or to compositional proliferations. A major challenge was the translation of those shades into an orchestral language which had already been delineated by the use of inside-the-piano techniques. The realisation of the extended version of «Dickens‘s humbug» was essentially inspired by Morgana Petrik, whom this version is cordially dedicated.


»Marley was dead: to begin with.« So beginnt Charles Dickens eine seiner bekanntesten Erzählungen, die wörtlich betrachtet eigentlich ›ein Weihnachtslied‹ bedeutet. Tot, oder sagen wir besser: abgedroschen, abgeschrieben und vom vielen Verfilmen völlig ausgeleiert, ist heute im Grunde alles, was auch immer dieses bis hin zu einer fernsehvertauglichten Bill Murray-Auskitschung plattgewalzerte Adventmärchen auch nur anzustreifen drohte. Warum also hier beginnen?

Weihnachten kommt alle Jahre wieder, komme was wolle. So tot der alte Marley auch scheint — nämlich »dead as a door-nail« — so lebendig spukt er immer noch als allgegenwärtiger Geist herum. Die Welt war immer schon die Mühsamste und ausgerechnet zu Weihnachten erwartet man selbst von den grantelndsten Menschen einen Mindesthang zu überschwänglichem Glücksgetue. Dazu werden schwere Geschütze aufgefahren: Glockengebrüll, funkelndes, kerzenlichtumflattertes Strohgestirn und ein gar himmlischer Nebel aus Pathos und Lakritze. Alles Humbug! In meiner Musik hört man all die Zutaten des Humbugs so miteinander vermengt, dass sich daraus eine eigene Dramaturgie entspinnt. Diese verläuft entlang ausgewählter Textstellen aus Dickens‘ Roman. Der Erzähler verfällt dabei immer mehr seiner eigenen Geschichte und verwandelt sich am Ende selbst in den Geist seiner eigenen Figur.

»Marley’s Ghost« entstand 2017 für den Bariton Georg Klimbacher und den Pianisten Andreas Fröschl, die die Musik im selben Jahr im Arnold Schönberg Center in Wien zur Uraufführung brachten. Die Fassung für Bariton und Ensemble schrieb ich Anfang 2020. Die Orchestrierung bedeutet dabei zugleich eine Neugestaltung in vielerlei Hinsicht: Eine Ausdifferenzierung in klangfarblichen Schichten führte an vielen Stellen zu einer harmonischen Neuausleuchtung oder zu satztechnischen Wucherungen. Eine besondere Herausforderung stellte die Übersetzung jener Schattierungen in eine orchestrale Sprache dar, die durch eine erweiterte Spieltechnik im Klavier quasi bereits vorskizziert war. Die Realisierung dieser erweiterten Version »Dickens’schen Humbugs« wurde maßgeblich von Morgana Petrik angeregt, der die neue Fassung herzlich gewidmet ist.

flute, clarinet in Bb, soprano saxophone (also baritone saxophone), horn, tenor trombone, percussion (1 player), piano, violin, viola, violoncello, double bass

vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, bass drum, timpani, large suspended cymbal, maracas

12’30 minutes

Universal Edition

March 22, 2021 • Wien, Ehrbar-Saal • Ensemble Zeitfluss • Edo Micic, conductor • Georg Klimbacher, baritone