Osiris / towards Osiris

During my first reflections about the conception of a work scored for large orchestra, later to be entitled Osiris, I came across a work created by Joseph Beuys in the 1970s, which shows scattered individual parts (cardboard patterns, originally created for his work “Filzanzug” [felt suit]), mounted in a free-rhythmic sequence on bare, untreated canvas. This impressive piece was given the name “Osiris” by Beuys and inspired me, over and above the immediate impression in encountering this special work, to immerse myself in the Osiris myth and to examine the meaning of this subject over the centuries.  

The fate of death of the god of fertility, son of the goddess of the sky Nut and the earth-god Geb, stands at the forefront of my observation. After he was murdered by his brother, Osiris remains in the kingdom of death, where he continues to work as a judge in the afterlife. In Egyptian mythology, the death of every person is closely bound up with the destiny of Osiris. I was particularly moved by the figure of Isis, Osiris’ loving sister and consort; after the crushing of her husband by his furious brother, the god of chaos, Seth, through the power of her love alone she is able to reassemble him and revives the reconstructed body of the lover through the broad pulsating of her wings. Previously she had hunted out the separate, dispersed parts of her consort in despairing, enduring search along the banks of the Nile. Out of this comes a formal structure for me, consisting of various stages of fragmentation and reanimation: the initial condition of unity, the disintegration into individual parts and their reconstruction and metamorphosis – a genuine musical process.

In this work I have sought to create larger contexts/connections, which can encapsulate Osiris as one of the most complex figures in Egyptian mythology in musical form.

Osiris is dedicated to Pierre Boulez.

Matthias Pintscher