A man points to a woman staning with an axe over a tree trunk on the beach.
An axe for the frozen sea within us: Ruth Crawford Seeger, a log and friend Carl Sandburg, c. 1930 | Picture:  peggyseeger.com

Concert information

Musikfest Berlin



The composer Ruth Crawford Seeger was not only part of the ultramodernist movement that sought to investigate the possibilities of music beyond European traditions, she was also a researcher into the folkloric music of the USA and influenced by the Theosophists. A woman of her time, the fast-moving inter-war years, and yet so far ahead of them – Musikfest Berlin and Ensemble Modern dedicates a three-part concert portrait to her that enables her musical world to enter a dialogue with contemporaries and present-day composers.


Ensemble Modern
David Niemann conductor
Nina Guo soprano (Léon)
Amanda Becker soprano (Léon)
Keren Motseri soprano (Léon)
Paul Jeukendrup sound direction


Johanna Magdalena Beyer
Music of the Spheres for three electronical instruments

Ruth Crawford Seeger
Five Songs for contralto and piano to poems by Carl Sandberg

Tania León
Tau for ensemble

Ruth Crawford Seeger
Three Songs for voice, oboe, piano, percussion, and optional orchestral ostinato to poems by Carl Sandberg

Ruth Crawford Seeger
The Adventures of Tom Thumb for three electronical instruments


Katherine Balch
Waste Knot for soprano, four amplified dictaphones, and ensemble

Ruth Crawford Seeger
Two Ricercare for voice and piano to poems by H. T. Tsiang

Tania León
Singinʼ Sepia, five songs for voice and three instruments to texts from Rita Dove

Additional information

A Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin eventSupported by the Capital Cultural Fund

Chamber Music Hall