Laudate Lignum (1980) by Werner Heider
Instrumentation: Marimba (4.0 octave)
Duration: 10 minutes
One of the most challenging pieces in the marimba repertoire, Laudate Lignum uses contemporary harmony and extended techniques to create a distinctive and exhilarating world of sound. The piece begins with the juxtaposition of sforzando block chords with delicate rolls. Devices include the performer’s fingernails, pianissimo chordal rolls, dead strokes, glissandi, intense flurries of notes with constantly changing metric subdivisions, random blocked chords, and the mallet handles.
Werner Heider pointed out the title, Laudate Lignum, translates to “praiseworthy wood.” He writes that, in his opinion, the marimba is the noblest and most natural of all percussion instruments, and thus the most beautiful. Laudate Lignum is intended to capture Heider’s dramatic ideas of knowledge, motion, riot, storm, silence, and “broken” chant. These ideas are clearly represented in different sections of the piece and, when combined, create a dramatic emotional arc for the performer and listener.
Werner Heider is a Bavarian conductor and composer currently residing in Erlangen, Germany. From 1945-1951, he studied with composer and musicologist Willy Spilling at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich. An avid Third Stream composer, Heider developed an interest in jazz at an early age. His Divertimento (1957) for jazz quartet and small orchestra was recorded by the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1960. Heider founded and conducted the Ars Nova Ensemble Nuremberg in 1968. Since, he has continued to conduct both contemporary ensembles and major orchestras throughout Europe. – Christine Augspurger