Fabien WAKSMAN, composer

Carcere Oscura (for accordion and string quintet)
a piece freely inspired by Beethoven’s Symphony n° 5

« What can hearing loss mean for a composer ?

This is the question I tried to answer by composing this sextet, written in tribute to Beethoven.

It was the vision of a Beethoven, prisoner of his own body that was the starting point for this piece. An collossal prison, of Dantesque proportions, and at the same time oppressive. This interior world, which I imagine to be the spirit of a Beethoven without auditory contact with the exterior, reminded me of the Piranesi’s engravings. Carcere Oscura, produced in 1743, is a kind of prelude to the cycle of the Carceri d’Invenzione, the artist’s masterpiece. This prison universe has a fantastic aspect due to its monumental type. Nevertheless, it remains forever closed, inhuman, and therefore terribly frightening. In the words of Marguerite Yourcenar, the Carceri evoke a “fictitious world, yet sinisterly real, claustrophobic, and yet megalomaniac (which) is reminiscent of that in which modern humanity is getting more and more locked up every day ».

The first four notes of the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven’s most famous motif, run through the whole piece, its treatment is most often frantic, as if it seemed to run desperately in a perpetually evolving labyrinth in look for an exit, a comfort, a glow. The decor may change considerably, the feeling of urgency rarely leaves a discourse in which the accordion gradually manages to gain independence from a very dense and compact string ensemble.

A short ascending cadenza to the accordion leads to the appearance of a new cell from the second theme of the first movement of Beethoven’s symphony, which gradually seems to bring relative calm, whose dim light cannot prevent the return of the initial frantic type. It is in a access of furious dementia that this quest ends, as vain as it is essential, of a freedom that eternally flees us.. »

Fabien Waksman

Fabien Waksman in a few lines…

After studying piano and musicology, Fabien Waksman joined the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse is Paris (CNSMDP) where he benefited from the teaching of JF Zygel (harmony), JB Courtois (Counterpoint), T. Escaich ( Fugue and Forms ) and Michèle Reverdy (orchestration). At the same time, he received advice from Guillaume Connesson in composition. He is currently professor of harmony at the CNSMDP.

His chamber music is regularly played in festivals such as « Musique à l’Emperi », Auvers-sur-Oise, or the Centre de musique de chambre in Paris, where he has had the chance to collaborate with interpreters such as Eric Le Sage, Emmanuel Pahut, Paul Meyer, Jérôme Ducros, Jérôme Pernoo, Pauline Haas, Florent Héau, Mathieu Herzog, Eva Zavaro, Guillaume Vincent, Claire-Marie Le Guay, as well as the quartets Hanson and Aquilone.

Bandmaster Stéphane Denève commissioned the symphonic pieces Solar Storm (2009) and Le Parfum d’Aphrodite (2011), which he created at the head of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

In 2012, RadioFrance called upon him for a new orchestral piece, Protonic Games, created by Daniele Gatti at the head of the Orchestre National de France at the Champs-Elysées Theater.

His collaboration with the Orchestre National de France continued during the creation in 2019 of a new music for a Charlie Chaplin film, and continues even today with the composition of the music of a concert-fiction around Moby-Dick scheduled for October 2019.

​Fabien Waksman has also composed several operas intended for young audiences : first Aladdin ou la lampe merveilleuse (2007), then L’oiseau de glace (2012) and Epic Falstaff (2013), both commissioned by the Opéra National de Paris and written in collaboration with the stage director and librettist Florent Siaud. In 2014, he composed a large fresco for children’s choir and orchestra on a text by William Blake, Europe, a Prophecy. In 2017, the Orchestre National de Lyon created La Clé d’argent, an opera trilogy paying homage to the universe of H.P. Lovecraft.

He deepens his work on vocal music through the composition of Sumanga’ for choir and harp, work freely inspired by traditional music from around the world (commissioned by the Orchestre de Paris), from Pandore for mixed choir a capella on a text by Niki de Saint-Phalle, or melodies inspired by Japanese literature on an original text by the poet Camille Loivier.

His passion for cosmology led Fabien Waksman to collaborate with astrophysicist Jean-Philippe Uzan, with whom he created Le Baiser de la mort, string quintet and piano inspired by the discovery of gravitational waves. This pair are currently working on writing a cycle of melodies, the Black Songs, paying tribute to the discoveries of Stephen Hawking.

In 2011, he received the André Caplet Prize for musical composition from the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

​ In 2012 he won the Sacem Grand Prize for symphonic music (young composer).