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Eingang (2012)

Instrumentation: Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, 'Cello, Piano, Percussion
Duration: ca. 12'
Text by Albert Giraud
Commissioned by the LUNAR ensemble
Premiere Date: October 7, 2012 Baltimore, MD
November 13, 2012, Fredonia, NY

Program Note

In 2012, Gemma New, then directing an intrepid new music ensemble, approached me to be a part of a compositional collective which would end up accomplishing a rather imposing task, that of setting the texts from Albert Giraud’s Pierrot Lunaire which Schönberg had omitted from his own setting of Pierrot. These would ultimately be paired in concert with Schönberg’s own work.

The idea of writing something that could exist on the same program as Schönberg’s Pierrot was intimidating enough on its own, and was made all the more so when I received the texts I was to set. Highly sensuous, they strayed into areas that I typically did not approach in my music. Completing the work was therefore an artistic, psychological, and technical challenge, as I endeavored to balance bringing to life the words on the page, writing for an ensemble laden with history, and creating something that I felt could stand on its own yet also exist in the same realm as the original model.

The title, meaning “entrance,” is a double entendre, referencing both an actor’s entrance (as Pierrot and Columbine enter into our consciousness in Eihne Bühne, “A Stage”), as well as a musical entrance: an “Eingang” was often a brief, improvisatory section before the statement of a main theme. Much of the work carries with it this improvisatory quality which seems to perpetually to be setting up an arrival, which may or may not actually occur. (One could also read a more bawdy triple entendre into the title as well, if one wished.)

Eine Bühne, after an introductory passage referencing motives developed in later movements, opens to intervals of perfect fifths, revealing the aural “stage” into which the soprano enters. Splotches of instrumental color fill the texture, frequently echoing the soprano’s line in drips and drops. Kalte, feste, starrende Brüste centers around a dissonant, too-sweet chord (the intervals of which hint at pitch collections frequently used by Schönberg). Intermittent blocks of sound alternate with the sparse textures, leading to the final phrase when Pierrot’s mistress presses him to herself. At this moment, a wry fugue begins, gradually growing in activity, volume, and, perhaps, sensuality, until an explosive arrival on an F-minor sonority signals the final movement, Im Spiegel. Here, a slow chaconne progression in the piano grounds the shimmering lines, weaving amidst the soprano’s statement, until the work closes on a single pitch: the stage’s curtains finally shut.

— Douglas Buchanan




"Douglas Buchanan’s Eingang is a setting of three sensual, highly atmospheric poems with music to match. The slippery string sounds and wild vocal leaps in the opening ‘Eine Buhne’ exerted a strong pull, as did the fugal interlude between the last two songs and, in particular, the lyrical, chordal closing moments that suggested a gentle landing in a tonal zone."

— Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun


The Lunar Ensemble, under the direction of Gemma New, performs Douglas Buchanan's "Eingang," a setting of three poems of Albert Giraud for Pierrot ensemble and soprano.


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