Mathew Rosenblum on Borrowing from Berlioz

A lament from days past.

By David Bernabo

Mathew Rosenblum, composer, professor, and co-director of Music on the Edge, is working on a new concerto, Lament/Witches’ Sabbath. And I’m making a film about it — In A Dark Wood. In this new clip from the in-process documentary, Rosenblum discusses how he is taking inspiration from the last movement of French composer Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

Beyond Berlioz, “The piece references — in a non-narrative way — my grandmother’s story about how she fled from Proskurov, Ukraine in 1919 to escape the well-documented massacre in that town,” relates Rosenblum. The concerto incorporates field recordings of Jewish and Ukrainian laments — a spoken or sung expression of grief, rendered in poem or song form — along with “traces of my grandmother’s voice.”

The piece allows Rosenblum to reconnect with his family history, while also writing for and working with renown clarinetist David Krakauer, an old high school friend.

Watch the above clip to gain some insight into the composing process of Lament/Witches’ Sabbath.