A Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut
On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin with the spaceship Vostok 1 orbited the earth in 108 minutes, writing space history. Barely seven years later, the space pioneer died in the crash of his MiG near Moscow. The cause of the accident is still not understood.
From the beginning, the Lebanese-American poet, philosopher and painter Etel Adnan was interested in philosophical, artistic and mythical aspects of the space programs of the great powers. The cosmonaut Gagarin – ‘the great child in the great machine’ – particularly impressed her. In 1968, after his death, she wrote the eleven-part poem A FUNERAL MARCH FOR THE FIRST COSMONAUT – a metaphor on flights of fancy and crashes of mankind. Fifty years after its release, Etel Adnan entrusted the typewritten version to composer and pianist Ulrike Haage. As she declared, the Funeral March calls for composition, evokes music, sounds, acoustics.
Ulrike Haage composed an experimental requiem and at the same time a radio-poem in which text and sound, composition and improvisation, singing and voices, languages and noises are congenially interlinked. One may hear this piece like a concert performance, one may enter it like a space-time-sound installation, guided by the voice of Etel Adnan herself. Her poetry opens up a
questioning of our state of being. ‘Today we are at the beginning of a new upheaval. No easy change. We are in the process of becoming a new species. We already are.’ (Ulrike Haage)