Entrevista a Clotilde Rosa / Interview with Clotilde Rosa
Approaching Music Life
My father and my mother, of course! My father was a violinist and an excellent opera singer, and my mother was a harpist and pianist also. We played music at home, she accompanied him on the piano, he sang and I knew all of those operas, the arias, and then often, it had such an impression on me that me and my brother went to this enormous veranda we had to imitate opera, although my brother had a woman's voice and I had a man's voice - he has a beautiful soprano voice. And then there were my father's opera costumes and we used to play with those. So, my father and my mother were really fundamental in my musical upbringing, as even when they died – I was very, very young, I lost them when I was 10 – well, their image endured and I chose - came to choose - music, even because of this.
And the instrument - the harp! The piano… I was forced to do the course and just as well, because it gave me a very good basis for composition. But now to a degree I even regret having given up on technique somewhat. These days I play piano very little because I never studied again, but with the harp, well, I dedicated myself to the harp.
I met Jorge Peixinho exactly as a harpist, and Jorge Peixinho also had a tremendous impression on my life, in as much as, suddenly, I meet an exceptional person, an exceptional musician - and also at the time I had drifted somewhat from the conservatory as I had already finished the course but very much wanted to find out about contemporary music.
I heard that David Tudor had come here and that John Cage had come also, but I simply did not go to hear them. And for me, I found this intolerable, but I was very much into the plastic arts as I spent a lot of time with my brother, Artur Rosa and with Helena Almeida – who now has had a tremendous impact on the scene because she is a great artist. I was very close to the plastic arts, but with music I felt that I lacked company. Until one day, Mário Falcão, who was living in the United States, knocked on my door to find out if I wanted to do the work Imagens Sonoras (Sonic Images) by Jorge Peixinho for two harps. At that time he wasn't living in the United States, he only went there later. And I got quite scared, as I loved and wanted to get to know contemporary music but had had no technical education in this. And well, obviously I said yes and the rehearsals were very tough, very tiring as in 2 bars I had to change 5 pedals, or well I don't know how many pedals I had to change, and I got almost sick with studying, when I studied Imagens Sonoras, but the truth is that I never ceased to collaborate with Jorge Peixinho after that. Never, I never stopped, and, in fact, it was here that I found the musical part that I was missing, and more. I studied a lot with Jorge Peixinho, and later, besides forming the group before, he often brought colleagues together and we held musical encounters of contemporary music. We put on a happening in the Divulgação bookstore also with some artists - with Melo e Castro, a poet, and with Salette Tavares and also with António Aragão, who was a poet. There was an ode to criticism, we spoke about criticism, ridicularizing it and criticism was almost “eating” us up. This was also a landmark, it was a very interesting time, in 1964 if I'm not mistaken. So the Áreas e Imagens Sonoras happened in 1962 and from then on I have never left contemporary music - never ever -, although Jorge died, the seeds he left have flourished amongst us all.
We never had a golden age on the experimental side and we did - I remember, I could never forget, we went to do some recitals in Madeira and there we did an experimental part, we improvised! Then the dress rehearsal of the improvisation… You don't just improvise from nothing! And then, at a certain point, we got so carried away that we even included our voices saying: “No!”, “Yes”, “No!” Extraordinary - I will never be able to forget that improvisation.
We improvised a lot in the Gulbenkian, as we had the Gulbenkian to ourselves until one in the morning to rehearse. And then someone took some gongs, or whatever, or they ruined something or broke something, and then – it wasn't us, but people began to say that it was the group – and it wasn't us at all – it was just someone who didn't like the group. And then we no longer had that sense of security. Madalena Perdigão, at that time, did not allow us to go there to rehearse so easily, we had to book our rehearsals, and this we obviously understood, because I heard so much gossip about what went on there, hearsay. I just remember perfectly that we were rehearsing our improvisations, which was marvellous, marvellous! The experimental part was always a part that I got excited about. In fact, in my works, not generally but often there are fragments which are experimental…
I had been in Darmstadt various times to see Musik fur ein Haus which Stockhausen did with his students. Each one performed a fragment and he then made the connection and it happened - this event was impressive, this was a place where you made music from the top floor to the basement. In the basement there was a mixer where all those pieces of music which were happening at various times of day were mixed and there was, for example: Mesias Maiguashca, Jorge Peixinho, Tomás Marco, various, various, and other composers – I don't remember their names now, a German, Ralph… who also played trombone – I know they were Stockhausen's students and this event was so important. And at that time I even said that here in Portugal Jorge Peixinho was not given his due consideration. Stockhausen favoured him greatly and so did other students, and there were enormous photographs of them, of the participants on the course, and they made this Musik fur ein Haus. And then, in as much as Jorge had this experience, he remembered having a similar experience with us, with the group - in 1976, if I'm not mistaken, or 75, I don't remember well -, where he asked each of us to perform a fragment – I have told this story various times –, a fragment, for him to then make the connection between this fragment and present it in concert. And that's what he did. And the person who was left with the seed germinating inside was me, I never stopped composing, really. And he quite liked my improvisation and, in fact, the desire to compose has never waned. I didn't even have any idea that I was capable of composing, we were all very surprised, Carlos Franco also made a very interesting fragment, Lopes e Silva was already composing and the others too, but the seed really fell, shall we say, on me, in fact, and I haven't stopped since.
I am always very disciplined when I write, although I have a fair amount of freedom, I am not tied down to one school. When you say that the twelve note series was very important for me, of course it was. But at the same time, today I write perfectly freely, I write freely. Not in the beginning, when I still used to use some series as a discipline, but I freed myself from them as, one day in one of Álvaro Salazar's classes, - he was giving those courses on musical analysis in Estoril - in the interval I arranged one of my series, of 3 chords of 4 notes, and it is these chords of 4 notes which more or less inhabit my works, which at times may suggest these chords of which you speak. But I will never use them in a traditional, systematic and much less tonal manner.
The Encontro (Encounter) – that is funny – arose out of the fact that it is difficult for people to be all in agreement and for there not to be friction in a group. After the 25th of April revolution the friction was even greater as people did not all have the same way of thinking, and then also there were some who arrived early and others who arrived late… - there was some friction within the group, and I was always the peacemaker, and then, as the peacemaker I was, I felt bad. I felt it was a shame that there should be so much friction in a group where everyone was a friend. Sometimes some got up and said: “I'm not rehearsing any more because you arrived so late and I won't stand for it because I've been here for ages. Some people arrive on time and other don't…” Jorge used to put his hands to his head and also couldn't stand it, couldn't bring discipline, because we were all such friends. Then one day, at home, when my children and Carlos were playing cards, they put me out - as I never liked to play and only messed around - and I thought: “Well look at that! I was thrown out! I am going to do something, what am I going to do? Ah, I will compose something, I'll compose!” That's the way it is. I went off to compose, went to the piano and decided to write a work which would help the group to get along together. And that was how the Encontro came about. As for material, I arranged a cluster in the strings and the flute was a melodic part, shall we say, a more melodic part. I was already using multiple sounds, and had a cadence, but hen it was like this: the strings would gradually take over the material of the flute and the flute would gradually assume more, ending up with some strings playing an open arpeggio in fifths, and it ended like that. This for me was the encounter of the group, and I called it Encontro. At that time Joly Braga Santos and Nuno Barreiros had to send a Portuguese work to the composers' tribune. Jorge Peixinho liked that work a lot and felt he wanted to use the work and recorded it; they were a bit against this because they had never heard about… “Clotilde is a composer now?” and Jorge insisted that it would be this work. It went ahead and they liked it a lot and were very impressed as amongst 30 countries and 60 works the work came in 10th place ex-aequo, which for me, for one's first composition was not bad at all. That was a landmark moment.
After this came Alternâncias, for flute and piano, which I dedicated to Carlos Franco and to Jorge Peixinho - in which there is a duet between the flute and the piano. And I particularly like this work, and the material in it because I think it is quite interesting material. As the name says - Alternâncias - there is in fact an alternating between an arpeggio on the piano of an expressionist nature to which the flute replies with some melodic cells – within melody as I saw it at the time, it wasn't traditional melody, of course – and then there are some beats of the piano - with the piano, on the piano string, when there are beats of the flute - and then there is a duo between both, some fragments which repeat Ad Lib. Then, next, there is another element - I went for a truly dodecaphonic series where the expressionist chord was always the same, but there were notes of the series which coincided with notes of the series which were completed with the flute were marked, accentuated, so that then there is a coordination between the piano and the flute which forms this series. And I find this existing interweaving very interesting, because I managed to come up with quite an original plan, for me at least. Then, the same dialogues and replies follow, questions and answers between the flute and the piano until the discourse comes to a close but more and more softly, more and more slowly, but always with this arpeggio, shall we say, with an increasingly slower arpeggio – it is no longer the same notes – but more and more slowly, until, finally, there are silences and the 2 second silences become 5 second silences, the 5 second silences become 7 seconds and at the end it ends with a cluster on the piano and, therefore, with maximum statics. That is it, the work.
At the time of the studies on Fernando Pessoa I was asked to do some music for the studies for an activity they were going to put on and I did something on this. Afterwards, from this material the Sonhava de um Marinheiro appeared, which had excerpts from the static poem, from the static drama of the sailor, therefore, and which has an orchestra like the Gulbenkian orchestra – as this is smaller, not symphonic – and 3 female voices of the 3 women who are always talking about the sailor who only exists in their minds. And I like this work a lot because… much to my displeasure, there was nowhere to work with electroacoustics, there was no studio, I had no possibilities here in Lisbon, and then I spoke with Luís Cília, who was a friend of mine and he placed a studio he had at my disposal. Then helped me to construct the electroacoustic part which was a synthesiser. So this work is for synthesiser, orchestra and 3 female voices. I think the work is a good one! I quite like this work and just a short time ago – about 2 years ago – I input it all on the computer and it was also 2 years ago that I went to Aveiro to visit João Pedro Oliveira who passed it from tape to CD and who sorted out the auditive part or me.
Adversities in the Portuguese Music Scene / the Opera “O Desfigurado”
I felt some, but in any case I had a number of commissions. But Jorge also helped me a lot to get commissions, because in my condition as a woman it seems to me that, well, you know – as this really irritates me because, for me whether you're a woman or a man it's the same – but I think that Jorge used to protect me while he was alive. Then he died and in fact I also didn't have any problems, people had got used to me, they had got used to hearing me.
Now it's a fact that it isn't by chance that my opera has been filed away for many years, it's not done.
It's by Armando Silva Carvalho, I don't know why it wasn't done, because it was suppose to be performed in Lisboa 94. But then Pinho Vargas had still not finished Édipo – it was to be done in the same performance, because my opera lasts 75 minutes – but no, he hadn't finished it and then there was no more money to do my opera, so it was never performed. It was never put on after that. The plot is not that difficult to put on – I think – Armando thought that if we had done any opera, or if we had chosen any story set in the past, I don’t know, in the time of Camilo Castelo Branco, would have been easier. I don't see why, as this opera is timeless. It was called Portuguex, now it is called O Desfigurado, to not be so surly: Portuguex, as the Portuguese – whether to the right or the left – don't like to “sell” Portugal, but, at the end of the day I think it is always up “for sale” (laughs), it has always been “for sale”. So, when it was done, it wasn't from this time on, it could have been done in the time of fascism, like now, or later. It is about wines becaming famous, fados well seasoned with wine. It is an advertising agent who has a woman boss for director.
And he constructs, as Gil Vicente would, 3 characters - which is the girl/ the woman, the worker and the business type. Luminously they look like 3 characters. And the advertising agent plays with these characters to advertise the brand - the Portuguex brand. And they have to come up with a slogan - the slogans have to appear on large billboards. But then, after all of this, there appears a kind of a Messianic figure who wants to have done with everything, who is the "Desfigurado" – this is why the opera is called O Desfigurado – who ends up with: “You, daughter of the ants, rise up and walk!” “You worker also who…” – the worker who was also staring a lot at the girl's curves also had to… well. But at that time there is something which imposes itself and that is the director – it is money – which says “enough” and she is the one that wins because money is what comes out on top, so that's it
Elementos de improvisação
Eu creio que também até no Ricercare isso existe. Eu empreguei muito módulos que depois diz: Repetir ad libitum e permutando, permutando ad libitum, isso é dar livre curso às pessoas, para o intérprete, não é? Só que na orquestra nem sempre resulta porque … – quando é depois muito bem explicado resulta – mas, nos grupos verdadeiramente contemporâneos resulta porque nos conhecemos uns aos outros, não é? E sabemos aquilo que se quer. Nas orquestras, muitas vezes, os instrumentistas que eram menos amantes da música contemporânea…ou menos criativos, quando viam um fragmento: “Ta ri ri ra ro ri ra ra ri” , faziam: “ta ra ri ro ra ri ro ra ri, ta ra ri ro ra ri ro ra ri” e não faziam: “Ta ti to ta, ta to ti”, não faziam! E então o Carlos Franco dizia-me: “Ó Clotilde, para escrever para orquestra não se pode escrever assim. Tem que ser tudo muito bem especificado, porque senão corres o perigo de fazerem aquilo que tu não queres!”
Trabalho com Constança
Eu tinha uma grande admiração pela Constança. A Constança era uma mulher fantástica, uma compositora extraordinária e nós fizemos muitas obras dela.
Mise en Requiem… eu esqueço-me do nome do… Mais, mais obras dela, o Momento… O Momento até o apresentámos em Royan, no festival de Royan e teve uma ovação espectacular, e não sei até, como tinha aqueles batimentos no chão e ainda estávamos na época do Fascismo, não sei se as pessoas também sentiram, sentiram que era uma manifestação - eu sei lá, aquela obra mexeu muito com o público. Aí a Constança era excepcional, foi uma… outra perda muito grande. Tanto ela como o Jorge Peixinho podiam ser vivos, tanto um como o outro… eu sou mais velha e ando cá ainda.
Eu experimentei, mas confesso que saiu mais música que teatro. Porque fiz o Diapasão que era… Diapasão que hoje é para orquestra, é para uma orquestra de arcos, mas foi para um trio em que havia cena, havia cena. Começam a tocar com um diapasão na realidade, o diapasão é que é o primeiro som que se ouve. Essa obra é capaz de ser, quanto a mim …– foi dedicada aos Beatles e aos jovens daquele tempo, e também utilizei A day in the life e um excerto, para finalizar a obra naquele grande crescendo que eles têm de glissando e também os Jethro Tull, porque eu também tenho interesse por música, digamos, pop, conforme a música se é boa, não é?… E realmente eram bons, os Beatles era bons. Mas essa obra, para mim, acho que não foi conseguida, tenho a sensação de que das minhas obras todas, essa obra… Porque depois o primeiro andamento é muito, é muito… é todo dentro da linguagem contemporânea mas depois o último andamento… Engraçado é que é tirado de uma série mas resulta mais ou menos… vou cantar: “Ta ta ti …” e então parece que é atonal, que foge um bocado… parece que é uma obra um bocado híbrida, quanto a mim. Bem também posso ter sentido isso…
E há também uma outra obra que é o Jogo Projectado II, onde o Luís Cília canta… dizia um poema, ao mesmo tempo que havia o… não sei como é que se chama, é diaporama? Eu não sei se é diaporama…
Um Ciclorama, um ciclorama! Em que nós estávamos para lá, a harpa, o trompete e a viola, salvo erro, e deste lado estavam outros e o Jorge Peixinho era o maestro que, justamente de propósito, que eles utilizam muito como… como…
Já sabe qual é, do grupo! Essa obra é minha, foi inventada por mim esse…que o maestro é muito grande por causa do foco da luz, é enorme, e foi dedicada aos povos latino-americanos que eram torturados. Foi dedicada, e há um poema da Marta Cristina Araújo que é recitado sempre pelo Luís Cília. Depois no fim quem recitou mesmo ao vivo foi o Carlos Wallenstein, que já morreu. Essa obra também pretendia ser de teatro musical, porque depois a certa altura os que estavam do lado de lá vêm para o lado de cá e o maestro continua a dirigi-los e no fim vão todos colocar-se numa roda - numa circunferência com uma luz roxa que incide na circunferência - e todos baixam a sua cabeça no fim do seu papel, depois de terem tocado tudo, o que queria dizer, evidentemente, que nem os ditadores escapavam à morte, não é? Mas também não… foi tocada uma vez ou duas… Ah, foi duas vezes, foi duas vezes, foi na Gulbenkian…e depois nunca mais se fez, tinha esse…, era interessante, tinha essa componente visual. Mas era difícil, porque era preciso arranjar um ciclorama e para arranjar o ciclorama… Pois eu fiz tentativas…