Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952) Lichtbogen (1986)
Born in Finland, Kaija Saariaho studied composition with Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, as well as with Brian Ferneyhough, and Klaus Huber, before moving to live in Paris. Since the 1980s she has worked with the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), a French Institute that focuses on studying electroacoustics, expanding the use of electronics in contemporary music. Her music was initially influenced by spectral composers such as Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail, but she has since devised her own harmonic structures, a detailed notational system depicting microtonality, and a method of extending sound from pure tone to unpitched noise.
Kaija Saariaho offers the following note on Lichtbogen:
The name Lichtbogen stems from the Northern Lights, which I saw in the Arctic sky when starting to work on this piece. While looking at the movements of these immense, silent lights which run over the black sky, the first ideas for the form and language of this piece started to move in my mind. What is the dependence - and does it exist at all? - between this phenomenon of nature and my piece, I don't know. In Lichtbogen I work for the first time with the computer in the context of purely instrumental music. Special harmony and rhythm are worked out with two different systems at IRCAM. Lichtbogen is a commission of the French Ministry of Culture and is dedicated to Paul Mefano.