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But Why Do I Hear the Crickets, It’s Morning

Saphir - Bartok

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Tomer Saphir
Curator: Irena Gordon


Tomer Saphir, in his work, "But Why Do I Hear the Crickets, It’s Morning", presents a distorted and ominous world. The artist converses with his daughter Tamara about an apocalyptic prophetic dream she had in the past, which he recalls in detail. The young girl indulges in a childlike, optimistic tribute that lightens the severity of the prophecy.

Béla Bartók – Divertimento for Strings

In 1939, Béla Bartók was commissioned by Paul Sacher, the conductor of the Basel Chamber Orchestra, to compose a piece for string orchestra. He travelled to Sacher's summer cottage in the pastoral Swiss mountains, far from the bleak reality of Nazism and fascism in Europe, and composed the Divertimento in just 15 days. Bartók, who was anti-fascist, was persecuted in his native Hungary and a few months later emigrated with his family to the United States.

"Divertimento" – “to amuse” in Italian - was a popular genre in the 18th century that served as background music for leisure events and dances of the aristocracy. Bartok chose to refer to the past, both in his choice of genre and in the music composition that simulates the Baroque concerto grosso, constructed as a dialogue between the orchestra and a group of soloists. In the middle movement of the piece, which falls between two dance movements, the composer expresses his inability to escape the bleak present. Bartok may be implying that his own existence in neutral Switzerland is similar to that of the disconnected aristocracy, wondering about the tension between the bleak and the cheerful. At the premiere of the piece in Basel, the question arose in the background whether creative forces of this kind would survive the violence and destruction. In the test of time, it became clear that music and art are somewhat successful, even in the darkest moments, in providing hope and optimism. Bartok's work allows room for struggle and belief in a better future.

Photos: Elad Sarig, Petach-Tikva Museum of Art

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