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Der Schönheitsmolch (The Beauty-newt) — character study after Elias Canetti
solo bass saxophone
for Andreas van Zoelen
January-February 2001; completed October 2008
Lindsey Welp, bass saxophone
Eric Nestler, bass saxophone
Der Schönheitsmolch (The Beauty-newt) is the eleventh in a series of short works for solo instrument based upon characters in Der Ohrenzeuge: Fünfzig Charaktere (Earwitness: Fifty Characters), written in 1974 by the Bulgarian-born British-Austrian novelist Elias Canetti (1905-1994). Canetti’s distinctive studies incorporate poetic imagery, singular insights, and unabashed wordplay to create fifty ironic paradigms of human behavior. This collection of works, begun in 1997, was inspired by the vividly surreal depictions of Canetti’s characters and includes works for contrabass, violin, bass flute, ocarina, contrabassoon, glass harmonica, trumpet, percussion, bass saxophone, piccolo, organ, basset horn, and violoncello, among others. In Canetti's depiction of this character, the Beauty-newt "is keen on all the beautiful things that have existed, do exist, or will exist in the world, and he finds them in palaces, museums, temples, churches, and caves… it would be ungentlemanly to describe his repulsive looks. Let it be said that he never had a nose. His pop eyes, his jughandle ears, his goiter, his black, rotten teeth, the pestilential stench he exudes from his mouth, his sometimes squeaky, sometimes croaking voice, his doughy hands… he never holds them out to anyone and unerringly finds his place in front of all beauties."
Der Schönheitsmolch was completed in October 2008 and composed for bass saxophone specialist Andreas van Zoelen. It is included on the album Improbable Encounters (innova 873, 2014).