JOHANNES KALITZKE: Vier Toteninseln
The “Four Islands of the Dead” are musical “over-paintings” of “Four Serious Songs” by Johannes Brahms; a work of his later years, songs of consolation for the growing certainty, increasingly personal, of his insight into the transient nature of earthly existence. These songs are like places on a shore made safe by biblical texts, from which one glimpses a dark space, the space of the here-and-now. The idea of a hereafter in the course of modern history, with its progressive centuries-long tendency to secularisation, has become more and more diffuse, so that the phenomenon of death at present is often now entirely repressed; a facade of outwardly life-affirming diversions displaces the view to that area outside one‘s personal experience of time. Böcklin‘s “Islands of the Dead” is a suitable comparison here: what lies hidden beyond the shores of the island, behind silence and darkness, is no longer a question of faith, but has come much more a matter of imagination, of fantasy. The essential subject-matter is invisible.