PublisherChester Music Ltd
Sub CategoryLarge Orchestra
Year Composed 2008
Duration20 Minutes

Programme Note

I was contacted in June 2019 by the European Broadcasting Union, who wanted to commission a one-minute piece to celebrate the Beethoven anniversary in 2020. This short orchestra piece was to be inspired by Beethoven, with a recognizable Beethovenesque spirit, but with a personal touch. It would be recorded by one of the BBC orchestras for the radio. The request was interesting, because – much as I have admiration for his music – I have never felt very close to Beethoven, and I’m not sure how his music has influenced mine. My reflections brought me to imagine using short excerpts of his second symphony, which are full of his typical energy and thematic beauty. I then combined the very beginning and very end of this symphony with musical material from my piece Orion. In Chimera, I wanted to emphasize some of our most characteric features, choosing material with specific orchestration from my music that would create a contrast to the Beethoven symphony and reflects the changes in orchestral music that have occurred during the 250 years since his birth. One important element both in Beethoven’s and in my music is the presence of an energetic tutti chord, that in both cases serves as an important pillar to punctuate the music. Here, these pillars serve as watersheds between the two musical worlds.

© Kaija Saariaho Paris, August 2020