The Red Book is a string quartet written in seven movements for the Thalea Quartet, commissioned by Caramoor, and inspired by Carl Jung's The Red Book: Liber Novus. The form of the quartet follows images and icons drawn from the calligraphy in the book.
This is the first extra musical work I've embarked on in a long time and I took the idea of seven movements because my favorite string quartet is Beethoven's Opus 131. Very little aside from the seven part structure is retained aside from the cyclical nature of the quartet, which in this case relates to the cyclical nature of life, and to the visual mandala which served as a binding image for Jung. A legend of images and icons accompanied his mandala, which among many others include the soul, the serpent, the sun/eye, fullness and emptiness, with at its center humanity, which ends and begins the cycle. These icons are represented in my work by different themes and music motifs that are interpolated and developed throughout the cycle. 7 visual calligraphic images from the Red Book serve as the guiding sources for the structure. The work is tied together by the notion of overcoming our contemporary malaise of spiritual alienation through this moment of collective consciousness. Jung integrates the following threads: an attempt to understand the "human" personality in general, the relation of the living and the dead, and an attempt to understand the psychological and historical effects of Christianity, and the future religious development of the West.
About The Red Book
In 2009, a manuscript that psychologist Carl Jung wrote during the years 1914–30 was published in the original German, with English translation as The Red Book: Liber Novus. It was, by Jung’s own description, a record of his “confrontation with the unconscious.” The Red Book was at the center of Jung’s self-experimentation, and although its title had been well known for years, it was not until almost 50 years after his death that its contents were revealed to the public and practicing psychotherapists. The work contains an account of his imaginings, fantasies, and induced hallucinations and his own color illustrations.