Industry & Idleness

popular print for orchester, 1996

Premiere: Donaueschingen 1996 (cond. Peter Eötvös)

2. 2. 2 (Bkl). 2. / 2. 2. 1. 0. / 2 Schlzg. / Klav (Sam.) / 8. 7. 6. 4. 2.
16 min

Publisher: G.RICORDI & Co GmbH, Munich

"The title of this piece is loosely related to a series of prints by the English painter and engraver William Hogarth, dating from 1747. I only got to see them recently. in the second volume of an English Hogarth monograph (High Art and Low), and since the 12 prints presumably fall in the latter category, they are included in the chapter Popular Prints (II). It is probably no accident that I came across them precisely at a time when I should have been working on the composition for Donaueschingen for ages, but had been thinking about High Art and Low instead. At first sight, the engravings (Calculated for the Use and Instruction of Youth, W.H.) are a fairly trite, moralising comparison of two weaver's apprentices, one industrious and pious, the other idle and a gambler, whose lives are broadly narrated in 12 prints, to a culmination where one ends up as Lord Mayor of London, and the other finishes on the gallows. But Lichtenberg finds all kind of irritating and entertaining details in the engravings which suggest that alongside his simplistic parable, Hogarth offered room for speculation. For example, in the first print of the series, there is a booklet on the floor next to both looms, entitled Guide to Apprentices. The idle apprentice's copy is filthy and torn, the industrious one's is clean and orderly. An example that inspires the following thoughts from C. G. Lichtenberg (abbreviated): "However, it can't be denied that the latter, virtuous as he may be (and indeed is). could surely have found a better place for his textbook. .. than on the floor, which is always a kind of common ground for every footstep and incident, and a repository for garbage. In this respect, any defending spirit would allow the hapless and irredeemable Idle Jack a measure of charity. Presumably it is not Idle Jack's fingers that have let the booklet fall into disrepair, it’s the insistently playful claws of a kitten that have savagely censored it.
And one can well imagine the same critique being exercised from other points of view."
The composition has no direct or illustrative relation to any particular print; rather, it relates to the attitude underlying their production - popular prints - and also to the polarity "Industry and Idleness".
For me, perhaps, what I do not compose is just as important as what actually emerges. The former is certainly much more extensive than the latter - luckily for my listeners, my family, and myself
" Heiner Goebbels


Industry and idleness is coherent en actueel **** (Review, nl)
Er zit jazz in zijn composities, en muziek uit Afrika, dat alles samengebonden door een intrigerende lijn naar de actualiteit. Verontrustend actueel klonk het hoogtepunt van de suite: de zang van twee cantors vlak voor WO II
9 January 2017, Biëlla Luttmer, Volkskrant

Industry & Idleness (de)
1996, Heiner Goebbels

Past Dates

January 2019
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam (Netherlands)

November 2017
November Music
Verkadefabriek Grote Zaal, s'Hertogenbosch (Netherlands)

September 2017
Music Centre Vredenburg, Utrecht (Netherlands)

January 2017
Korzo, Den Haag (Netherlands)

Music Centre Vredenburg, Utrecht (Netherlands)

March 2013
Black on White: Heiner Goebbels
RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester (Great Britain)

November 2010
Salle des concerts de la Cité de la Musique à Paris, Paris (France)

September 2007
Old Sewage Factory, Prague (Czech Republic)

October 2004
Casa da Música Porto, Porto (Portugal)

Casa da Musica, Ponte de Lima (Portugal)

November 2002
Museé du Luxembourg, Paris (France)

Festival d'Automne
Salle des Fêtes de Nanterre, Paris (France)

September 2002
Alte Oper, Frankfurt am Main (Germany)

November 2000
Society for New Music, Prague (Czech Republic)

May 1999
Music Centre Vredenburg, Utrecht (Netherlands)

October 1996
Donaueschinger Musiktage, Donaueschingen (Germany)