The 1st Symphony was inspired by five poems which the composer wrote himself, entitled “In der Ruh der Seele”. The contemplative text contributes to the sombre tone of the piece in which every word gives rise to a rich, expressive and romantic spectrum of sounds. One can discern clearly that Zwaag selected the same course as composers such as Beethoven (9th Symphony), Mahler and Shostakovich before him, in choosing a symphonically sung style, maybe the ultimate form of expression. What more than the human voice, accompanied by the full colour spectrum of a symphony orchestra, is able to express the whole of human life and experience in the most profound way?
Zwaag’s symphonic music slowly infiltrates into the consciousness of his listeners, creating an atmosphere of nostalgia and longing, and laying bare the awareness of mankind’s pursuit of the ultimate moment of happiness and fulfilment. It expresses the moment in which the soul becomes calm, because through searching, suffering and fighting (haben Sie denn keine Gnade mehr zu geben) it at last crystallises into a new dimension in which everything shows itself in its purest form and nature (Part 5: Wass soll ich dennoch sagen). Through quiet introspection of the true meaning of life, we can find the way to our fellow human beings. This process and the knowledge that comes with it can no longer be diverted by any frivolous distractions, instead it enables the soul, by contemplating its own origin, to rediscover its essential happiness.
Considering the above, this fourth section has to be considered as an intermezzo. A blooming rose reveals its beauty by the light in which it is bathed, even at night when bathing in the light of the moon. The clouds, humbly asking permission to pass overhead, demonstrate the fleeting nature of beauty and happiness, but are still unable to take away the essential nature of the rose.
A highly romantic picture is created . Zwaag appears to say to us:“Dort wo du bist ist das Glück” in contradiction to Goehte´s “Dort wo du nicht bist ist das Glück”.
The symphonic poem “The Pity of War” is programmed, composed and inspired by the poems of Wilfred Owen who said:
“Above all I am concerned with Poetry,
My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.”
The piece begins in a soft and dark mood, introduced by the basses indicating feelings of sadness, misery and death. The mysterious and threatening atmosphere develops into the confrontation with evil forces. The heroic fanfares predict the inevitable clashes of war and all its horrors. The second theme represents the power struggles leading to war. These two themes alternate; repeatedly the theme of suffering takes over the theme of war. The ´lamento´ which follows the last outburst appears to be similar to the beginning of the piece, although the feeling of increased lonliness is completely different. It is a musical expression of endless sadness: “The Pity of War”.
The last audible tones seem to say: “I will not be silenced, I will be heard until the right moment has arrived”.
The Pity of War is a manifesto for piece against all odds. This piece is an indictment of war and the inhuman suffering it causes . It is therefore dedicated to all victims of war.