In illo tempore


Piano Solo

UA: 9/5/1983, ‘De Ijsbreker’, Amsterdam, Solist: Geoffrey Madge

CD: Konrad Boehmer, BVHAAST 9008 (CD 1990)

Performer(s) : Geoffrey Madge (Pno.)

CD: BVHAAST CD 0901 Konrad Boehmer – The Piano Works

Performer(s) : Nicolas Hodges

IN ILLO TEMPORE (1979) was written at the request of Geoffrey Madge. This demanding composition is conceived as an audible history of keyboard music. It assumes all the attitudes which have been adopted by keyboard-players towards the instrument (as well as its quickly developing technique and music since the Middle Ages): all gestures and ‘attacks’, which are here melted into a single composition.

Nevertheless there is no question of a composition based on musical quotations. On the contrary, all references to historical styles, techniques, ornaments or performing attitudes have been subsumed into one single compositional method which guarantees the inner coherence of the various ‘gestures’.

From that primitive organ which was given by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Kopronymos to the Franconian King Pippin III (‘the Short’) in 757, up to modern grand pianos or even synthesizers, this music machine – operated by keys (levers) instead of buttons – has developed much faster than any other musical instrument.

This dynamic evolution has influenced the composition of IN ILLO TEMPORE and consequently has technical implications for its performance. IN ILLO TEMPORE does not only require a pianist who has mastered all techniques, it requires a musician able to change his entire personality with lightning speed, climbing swiftly into the habit of a medieval monk (performing an organum), at the next moment putting on the wig of a baroque harpsichord virtuoso, then just as quickly changing into a romantic keyboard lion or even a Prometheus of the avant-garde.

After a cadenza-like introduction, a plainsong melody on two notes leads us to the historical starting point. The piece closes with the same motive, followed by a coda whose rhythm is based on the words with which Edgard Varèse intended to open his world-embracing symphony ‘Espace’: ‘En avant, l’humanité en marche! Rien ne peut l’arrêter!’ (Forward, humanity striding ahead! Nobody can stop it!)

IN ILLO TEMPORE was premiered by Geoffrey Madge in May 1982 (Amsterdam). Before his recording (August 29, 2001) Nicolas Hodges performed the piece three times (London, May 20; Bergen/Norway, May 26; Dartington, August 5, 2001).

You can download the score here: Inillotempore.pdf