Notes from a Diary

During a visit to Amsterdam two years ago, I found myself standing by a dark window covered in grey dense material in a house, no. 263 in Prinsengracht, where Ann Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years during the Second World War. Standing by the window in this environment and what it represented was strangely muted. Suddenly a large bell was struck in the Westertoren Church nearby and the deep resonance emanating from that bell shook me profoundly for a split second. So this was the sound that Ann found reassuring; I was for a few moments painfully aware of her terrible fate. When I started work on a composition for viola and piano, the experience in the Ann Frank Museum became more and more the magnet that shaped the musical character of the work.

The mysterious and almost secretive sound of the viola seemed perfect for the sound-worlds I wished to create. The piano represents at times the "outer" world and the viola the "inner" world. Notes from a Diary consists of 15 short movements that form a larger whole, like songs in a song-cycle. There are no direct references to Ann's diary, but much to my own "diary of sounds" that emerged gradually from that single stroke of a bell that I heard in the Ann Frank Museum in Amsterdam.

Hafliði Hallgrímsson, August 2005

About Hafliði Hallgrímsson

An important figure in the field of Icelandic contemporary music with a growing international reputation, is Hafliði Hallgrimsson. Born in 1941 in the small town of Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland. He began to play the cello at the age of eleven and from 1958-1962 studied the cello at the Music School in Reykjavík. The following year he attended classes given by the legendary cellist Enrico Mainardi in Rome. Having been a member of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra from 1963-1964, he continued his studies in London at the Royal Academy of Music. He was awarded the coveted Madam Suggia Prize and a Recital Medal when leaving the Academy in 1966. Following his studies at the Academy, he studied composition privately with Elizabeth Luthyens, Dr. Alan Bush and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.