Richard Einhorn: Yesterday Is Not Today

From Folk Influences to Freudian Psychology

FRANK J. OTERI: But let’s talk more about your music. You’ve written film scores which raise another whole set of questions about large and small audiences. The Fire Eater is a work of yours I have yet to hear, but I was reading about it on your Web site and I thought it sounded fascinating. You incorporated Finnish folk music into that score.

RICHARD EINHORN: Yeah, what I did was we hired two Finnish folk singers, Anna-Kaisa Liedes and another friend of hers in the group and I wrote, in the film, there is this very enigmatic Latin quotation. And for some reason or another I started to get obsessed with it and thought well, that’s obviously important to the filmmaker and, you know, I know from Latin just a little bit, so I set that to music as a song and you know, in the style of a Finnish folk song sort of, and the two women started to sing it and it was just so, so great. It was one of those experiences where you know we were all going, "Oh my gosh, this is why we endure no sunlight and stay in a recording studio all the time." And it was really, really a wonderful experience and it got me interested in going back up to Finland to record, to actually record some folk songs and also to study them. It’s really, really just wonderful. The whole score, the whole score was actually for the Voices of Light ensemble, if you will: orchestra strings with flutes and oboes, plus a chorus and then these two folk singers, which was really good.

FRANK J. OTERI: It’s almost a Baroque orchestration…

RICHARD EINHORN: Yeah, yeah. I think that it was the right idea. I love the idea of bringing those kind of voices into a different kind of a world. I’m working with Kitka, I don’t know if you know them, they’re a San Francisco-based group of women who specialize in Bulgarian and Georgian folk music, and I’m going to be writing a piece for them. They don’t know what it is, but I do. But I’ll tell you. I’m going to use them, I’m going to write a piece, based on The Origin of Species, and it’s going to be for symphony orchestra and chorus and Kitka. At least the way that I’m conceiving it now, and Kitka will be used as the voice of the book, The Origin, and will only sing quotations from The Origin of Species.

FRANK J. OTERI: So another area. I have not heard your Freud And Dora opera.

RICHARD EINHORN: Neither have I.

FRANK J. OTERI: You were talking about psychoanalysis and I thought, "This is interesting. You’re not interested in Brahms‘ or Schoenberg’s psychoses, but you wrote an opera about Freud.

RICHARD EINHORN: Well, I’ve been living too long with Schoenberg. I’ve been studying him for about a year now, so like, I guess that’s the reason why I’m not interested in him anymore.

FRANK J. OTERI: Well, I’m wondering, just in terms of this whole connecting with that period, does Schoenberg’s music have an influence at all on the score of the Freud opera, because certainly that was what was going on musically in Freud’s time…

RICHARD EINHORN: No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. It will be my music. Zero interest in that! The Freud opera… it’s about a case history that got out of hand for Freud. I’m in a minority about this but I think he ends up being laughably inept. Inept, everybody agrees with, or almost everybody agrees with. Laughably… people just don’t find what I find humorous in it. But then I have kind of a sick sense of humor. And, very, very briefly, what interests me about it is not so much the psychoanalysis, I’ve studied quite a bit of it and have actually done a lot of research, a lot more research that I actually should have done, on the Freud case history. What interested me was the confrontation between Freud and the seventeen-year-old girl that was his patient named Dora and the complications that result. Because the two of them desperately need each other for a variety of reasons. Freud needs Dora as proof of The Interpretation of Dreams which is his big book that was published the year before, and Dora needs Freud because Dora is terribly distressed, I mean, at her family situation, at her situation with a friend of her father’s who tried to seduce her. But her father is sleeping with this guy’s wife so Dora thinks that she’s being used as a swap to keep this guy quiet. He’s bribing her to do it. So she’s very, very distressed, so the two of them meet and they have everything to gain from a relationship and they do everything possible to screw it all up. And there’s a tragedy to that at the same time that there’s something very, very comical about it. Because, you know, Freud doesn’t realize that he’s falling in love with Dora, you know, he just doesn’t realize it and he stumbles all over himself in the case history, making it very clear that he’s unconsciously in love. Dora doesn’t realize the amount to which she is undermining something that could be very much to her own good and to her own health. So as the two protagonists or antagonists, I guess, go their merry way. What we also realize is their particular relationship is really political. Their personal neuroses and problems and frictions and aggressions in fact, have large cultural implications, because of course the time, 1900, is of course, you know, the time when Theodor Herzl was in Vienna and the mayor of Vienna was a notorious anti-Semite. You had all the situations, philosophical and cultural. You had all the things in place to create a culture that would create havoc in the world and that’s exactly what happened. And Dora and Freud’s little relationship, their little problem, their little difficulties illuminate a lot of that.

FRANK J. OTERI: So it’s never been staged?

RICHARD EINHORN: No, no. Not yet. It’s a long story. I’d rather not get into it.

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