Kyle Gann: Kierkegaard, Walking (2007)

While Kierkgaard's books had a potent, if subtle, impact on my early intellectual life, I admit that when I began Kierkegaard, Walking, I didn't have him in mind. But I was thinking about walking, and I had an upcoming trip to Copenhagen on the horizon, with the intention of retracing Kierkegaard's steps. I was trying to think up images that had to do with meandering through mental or spiritual fields, while reading Joakim Garff's excellent biography of the philosopher, and it finally dawned on me that Kierkegaard wandering endlessly through Copenhagen, talking to everyone he met and working out his dialectic with or without an accompanying audience, was the image I needed. There are even passages where the aesthetic (or time-based) is contrasted with the eternal (repetitive), as in Either/Or. But it would be stretching things to connect Kierkegaard, Walking too closely with the content of the philosopher's writing: it is more the biographical image, the peripatetic philosopher in constant motion while musing sub specie aeternitatis, "from the standpoint of eternity." I managed to complete the first draft in Copenhagen, then tinkered with it a little more in Amsterdam.

Despite the piece's simplicity, any tendency to hurry must be resisted.

Kierkegaard, Walking was commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Players for their annual Icebreaker festival, and was premiered by them on January 26, 2008, at On the Boards in Seattle.
Other performances:
Seattle Chamber Players, Sacramento State University Festival of American Music, November 6 and 9, 2008

Duration: 15 1/2 minutes

Kyle Gann

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