The King of Denmark

Année de composition
Percussion solo

I remember writing The King of Denmark on the beach on the south shore of Long Island. I wrote it in a few hours, sitting comfortably on the beach. I wrote the whole thing on the beach. And I can recall the circumstances of composition: these sort of muffled noises of children and transistors and conversations of other summer people on their bath sheets. And I remember that these noises played a role in the work. I mean these sort of snippets. I was very impressed by the snippets, by these things that don’t last. What was happening around me became an image of the work, and to underline this image I had the idea of using fingers and arms and getting rid of the mallets where the sounds are only ephemeral, disappear and don’t last very long.

Everyone asks me about the title, The King of Denmark, but the title really came after the work. There was the idea of stillness, finitude, vague regrets that things don’t last. I don’t remember how the more serious metaphor, The King of Denmark, came about. One remembers that the King of Denmark went out into the streets of Copenhagen wearing the Star of David that Jews had to wear on their arms. It was a real silent protest. He was just walking and not saying anything. I don’t remember the connection between the beach and this story, but there was a very close connection in my mind at that time.

from an interview with Jan Williams, programme of the Festival d’Automne à Paris 1997, Feldman cycle.

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