About five years ago, I went to an exhibition on the painter Paul Klee at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I was extremely moved and wanted to write a symphony. This became a discussion, a dialogue between myself and Klee’s paintings, not in any sense a musical description of particular works. Although constructed of many small sections, my symphony is imagined as a complete, continuous whole.
Klee was concerned with finding formal means to embody deep and universal feeling without bitterness and pathos, and out of sophisticated complexity to make a concentrated simplicity. Line, which in his thinking was associated both with melody and dynamic, was a major element in his work. This is closely related to the Chinese aesthetic, which is linear, non-harmonic, and seeks the soul of the work rather than the surface effects.