Scottish Symphony/Requiem of Art

[Schottische Symphonie/Requiem of Art]

  • 1973
  • Two long-playing records in double album
    31.5 x 31.5 cm
  • Edition: 500, numbered, unsigned
  • Publisher: Edition Schellmann, Munich
  • Catalogue Raisonné No.: 83

The double LP Scottish Symphony/Requiem of Art (1973), contains two sound pieces that Beuys and his musical collaborator Henning Christiansen used in a performance by Beuys called Celtic (Kinloch Rannoch) Scottish Symphony, which was staged in Edinburgh in 1970.

The first piece, entitled Scottish Symphony, is a forty-four minute long recording of a piano being tuned. It consists of the short melodic passages used to verify the tuning process, interwoven with ambient noises from the piano’s vicinity. Together, these two registers of sound create an abstract auditory composition. Beuys often used unstructured noises such as these in his work, for the most part in conjunction with his own similarly abstract vocal utterances. Such was the case with Celtic (Kinloch Rannoch) Scottish Symphony, in which he periodically emitted guttural groans and cries, bereft of sense, but rhythmically emphatic and highly demonstrative in their delivery. In addition to Beuys’s sculptural idea of thought and speech which is expressed here, links can also be made to the speech or sound eurhythmy developed by Rudolf Steiner with the aim of breaking open rigid language structures in order to restore the original expressivity of the human voice.

The second piece featured on the double LP is a composition by Henning Christiansen named Requiem of Art, op. 50, fluxorum organum II. Thirty-six minutes in length, it features six distinct movements in which abstract sounds again feature prominently. These contain brief, haunting passages of organ music, along with ambient recordings of many sounds, among them moaning voices, a circling plane and the striking of a hammer on a metal surface. In contrast to Scottish Symphony, however, Christiansen’s piece contains a significant vocal element. At two points in the record, a woman’s voice describes a bog body, a naturally mummified, prehistoric corpse, of a kind that is occasionally discovered in the swamps of Northern Europe. Beuys saw life and the past preserved in the bog. In addition, he associated a hope for an enhanced Christianity with the spiritual traditions of Celtic countries; this is expressed in the Celtic action by numerous references to Christian and Celtic traditions. See in this connection the multiples Celtic + ∿∿∿∿ dating from 1971, and For Footwashing from 1977.

    Photo 1

    © H. Koyupinar, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

    Katalog Museum Mönchengladbach 1967