Migrants, by Kurt Seligmann(1900–1962), is paired with two pieces of music from the 21st century; which do you prefer, Kai Engel’s “Memories” or Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun, by Archippe Yepmou?
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Migrants (ca. 1955) and “Memories” from Irsen’s Tale (2013).
This pairing and commentary are by Lauren King.
Engel composed and produced this recording on a synthesizer. The recording is available at Free Music Archive.
When viewed and listened to simultaneously, the painting Migrants, by Kurt Seligmann, and the musical composition “Memories”, by Kai Engel from the suite Irsen’s Tale, may evoke a strong emotional connection within the viewer and listener. Chaos erupts in the center of the canvas with the artist’s use of overlapping line, shape, and color while calm subtly rises from the empty landscape that surrounds the figures. This same relationship between chaos and calm can be heard in Engel’s music, when the calm, slow tones of the piano are slowly overshadowed by loud, chaotic percussion instruments. The juxtaposition of chaos and calm is intriguing, and it provokes imaginative interpretations of the narrative of the painting and how that narrative can be heard in the music.
To read Lauren’s complete essay comparing Migrants and “Memories” click here.
For a different experience listen to Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun, performed by the twenty-first century composer Archippe Yepmou.
This pairing and commentary are by Alyson Walbridge.
Imagine trekking through a world full of nothing, and a landscape that is as empty as your heart is now that you have left everything behind you. It’s all in the past, but your emotions are as present as ever. The repetitive sounds of your footsteps are the only thing you can hear, and they are a constant reminder of the pain and sorrow you feel.
But, what if you were a child? You would be sad that you had left your comfortable home, but you would be elated to be going on another big adventure. You happily skip along daydreaming about what the future will bring.
The contemporary classical piece Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun reflects these contradictory scenes perfectly when paired with Kurt Seligmann’s Migrants. As you will see, these two pieces show how easily emotional conditions can change based simply on the age and knowledge of a person.