Summer 1999 Issue, Vol. II No. 4
The Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music
Gurdjieff embodied his teaching in three forms: ideas (both written and oral), movements, and music. An accomplished professional composer, Thomas de Hartmann collaborated on several hundred musical compositions with Gurdjieff in the 1920s. This issue is focused on this music and its legacy.
This anonymous commentary was written for the Gurdjieff International Review by a senior member of the Gurdjieff Society in London. For the author, it became apparent that for music to say what it had to say depended as much on the listening as what was listened to.
Written by Thomas and Olga de Hartmann, this account of the musical collaboration between Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann was first published as Chapter 25 of Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff: Definitive Edition.
This first page of Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, Holy Reconciling is taken from de Hartmanns music manuscripts. It is also partially reproduced in the Triangle Editions record album and CD notes. Besides showing de Hartmanns elegant music calligraphy, it contains his English handwriting, and connects to expressions used in Beelzebubs Tales.
The original English version of this essay was first published in Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teaching, New York: Continuum, 1996, pages 301310. Reprinted with kind permission of the author.
This account of the challenges film composer Laurence Rosenthal encountered when selecting and adapting music for Peter Brooks film of Gurdjieffs book was originally circulated as an insert in some of the press packets released with the film in 1978. Updated for this publication, Mr. Rosenthal emphasizes the importance of Russian composer Thomas de Hartmanns music in the film.
These two biographical sketches were originally published in Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff: Definitive Edition, London: Penguin Arkana, 1992, 277p.
Tom Daly read Ouspenskys In Search of the Miraculous on its publication in 1949, then had the good fortune to meet and befriend the de Hartmanns while they were living near Montreal in 1951. First published here, he describes the setting and impact of Thomas de Hartmanns 1954 talk to the then fledgling Toronto group.
A Special Evening at the Essentuki Social Club
I had a very difficult and trying time with this music. Mr Gurdjieff sometimes whistled or played on the piano with one finger a very complicated sort of melodyas are all Eastern melodies, although they seem at first to be monotonous. To grasp this melody, to transcribe it in European notation, required a tour de force.
Thomas de Hartmann
It is the consistency and objectivity of his [Gurdjieffs] essential tone that is so compelling. Whether in a delicate dance, a soulful song, or an uncompromisingly stark hymn, one hears always his call to return to and confront ones inmost being.
The music is very varied, from folk songs to sacred hymns, and the responses evoked are equally varied, sometimes speaking of the suffering and joy of a human life, sometimes eliciting a strange and quite unfamiliar coloration of the feelings, and sometimes, for me at least, as if conveying a definite knowledge hidden from my ordinary thoughts.
We had been brought to a level of pondering we had never before experienced. Finally she [Olga de Hartmann] planted a seed that grew inside this silence: There is only one important thingto actually develop our possibilities. We should not be content with anything else, or anything less.
Thomas C. Daly
An object attracts us; we do not attract the object. Objects govern us from outside. They make us do all sorts of things. It is not the woman who buys the hat, but the hat buys the woman. The man does not smoke the cigarette; the cigarette smokes the man, as Mr. Gurdjieff said. The attention and the will generated by outside objects, through the senses, are not our own. They are part of the mechanism of Nature: Nature works us. We do not conquer Nature; Nature conquers us.
Thomas de Hartmann
In order to awaken you have to think: all this agitation is external to me. You need an act of reflection. But if this act sets off in you new automatisms, in ones memory and ones reasoning process, your voice could continue to maintain that you were still reflecting: but instead you would have again fallen asleep. Thus you can spend entire days without awakening for a single instant. Waking is not a state but an act.
Copyright © 1999
February 16, 2018
February 16, 2018