The Fire Sermon
Composer: Axel Ruoff
One of the central sutras of the Palikanon.
(The Pali Canon is the oldest collection of the teachings of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, written in the Pali language.)
Then, after the Exalted One had stayed in Uruvelā as long as he pleased, he went to Gayāsisa with a large congregation of a thousand monks, all of whom were former lichen ascetics. There the exalted one stayed at the Gayāsisa in Gayā with the thousand monks.
There the exalted one spoke to the monks: "Everything burns, monks. And what all burns, monks? Seeing, monks, burns, the visible figures burn, the visual consciousness burns, the visual touch burns and what arises through the condition of the visual touch, namely joyful, sorrowful or neutral feeling, that also burns. By what does it burn? By the fire of desire, by the fire of hatred, by the fire of delusion it burns, by birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, suffering and despair it burns, so I say.
Everything burns, monks. And what all burns, monks? The hearing, the sounds - the smelling, the smells - the tasting, the tastes - the touching, the palpable things - the thinking, the thoughts burn, the thinking consciousness burns, the touching of the thinking burns and what arises through the condition of the touching of the thinking, namely joyful, sorrowful or neutral feeling, that also burns. By what does it burn? Through the fire of desire, through the fire of hatred, through the fire of delusion it burns, through birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, suffering and despair it burns, I say. “
The work tries to convert the fire sermon of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama into a musical sermon. The sensory impressions mentioned in the text fall victim to the fire of the music, as do the thoughts and feelings of our human existence.
The motif of fire is processed again and again throughout the piece. The themes addressed in the text are only hinted at as rhythmic metaphors in the form of aphorisms before they immediately disappear in the fire.
The Fire Sermon is dedicated to Cornelia Monske.
Mairmba (5. Octave)
About the composer +
Born in Stuttgart in 1957, Axel Ruoff studied composition,music theory and piano in Stuttgart, Kassel and Helsinki from 1975 to 1979 and graduated with honours. In 1984, his graduation was followed by a master in composition. From 1983 to 1985 Ruoff taught music theory at the State Conservatory of Music in Trossingen, from 1985 to 1987 he received a scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs in order to study at the National University of Fine Arts and Music of Tokyo.
During this time he was a visiting professor at several Japanese universities. Since 1992 Axel Ruoff has been Professor of Music Theory and Score Playing at the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart. From 2006 to 2010, he was Vice Dean, from 2010 to 2014 Academic Dean.
Ruoff’s oeuvre covers a wide range of genres. He was a scholar of the Kunststiftung Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Kuenstlerhaus Boswil Foundation in Switzerland. Ruoff has won several prizes in composition including the Landesmusikrat Baden-Wuerttemberg,the Valentino Bucchi Prize in Rome, the Ensemblia Moenchengladbach competition, the Pro Loco Corciano competition in Perugia and the ICONS Prize in Turin.
In 1988, he was chosen for the Forum junger deutscher Komponisten (Young German Composers’ Forum) in Berlin. His works have since been performed in important festivals, such as the Petersburg Spring and Tokyo Summer.
In 2002 he was awarded the Church Music Award of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, and in 2011 he received the first prize in the Saarlouis Composition Competition. In 2013 he was awarded the GEMA special prize and the BDMV award at the 5th German Music Festival in Chemnitz. 2014 he also won the second prize in the 3rd Uuno Klami International Composition Competition fororchestral works, in Finland.
In 2015, Axel Ruoff was Artist in Residence at the Aichi University of Arts and Music in Nagoya, Japan.
Painting: Axel Ruoff
Front Cover graphics and layout: Nicola Lee
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copyright © Edition SVITZER
With support from Koda’s Cultural Funds