Piéton de Hauterives (2001)
1: slow, cantabile
2: coda (attaca) Entrée du Palais Imaginaire, very slow, quiet
In 2000 I visited a fantastic piece of architecture created by Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924). He was a French postman working in Hauterives in the Drôme who spent 33 years of his life building an "Ideal Castle" (Palais idéal)in his own garden which is now regarded as an extraordinary example of western architecture.
Ferdinand left school at the age of 13 to become a baker's apprentice but eventually became a postman. He began building his palace in April 1879 and claimed that he tripped on a stone and was inspired by its shape. He returned to the same spot the next day and started collecting stones.
For the next 33 years, during his daily mail route, Cheval carried stones from his delivery rounds and at home used them to build his Palais idéal, the Ideal Castle. First he carried the stones in his pockets, then a basket and eventually a wheelbarrow. He often worked at night in the light of an oil lamp. Even when his wife died he just carried on. Locals regarded him as a village idiot.
The first two decades were spend building the outer walls. The Castle is a mix of different styles with inspirations from the Bible to Hindu mythology and Swiss chalets. Cheval got these ideas from the postcards from all over the world he had to deliver each day. The interior walls carry many selfintrospective texts and comments. These words bring a strong religious and ecstatic sphere to the building. Cheval did not had any training as a constructor and used the encyclopedia to find awnsers for constructing problems.
When the French authorities found out that Cheval wanted to be buried in his castle they forbade that. Than he proceeded to spend eight years building a mausoleum for himself in the cemetery of Hauterives. He died on August 19, 1924, around a year after he had finished building it.
Just prior to his death, he began to receive some recognition from luminaries like André Breton and Pablo Picasso.
In 1969 the Palace was declared a cultural landmark.
To honour this totally authentic and independent man I wrote Piéton de Hauterives. You could see it as a walk around the Palace. Only in the coda(Entrée du Palais Imaginaire) you enter the building It is a concerto for doublebell trumpet and small ensemble. The Dutch trumpetplayer/improviser/inventor Marco Blaauw asked me to write him a piece for his new invention: the doublebell trumpet. The instrument has two bells. It is possible to switch very fast from one to the other bell and make sounds and colours totally new on a trumpet. This new instrument can also play microtonal intervals with great precision. It is a perfect instrument for representing all the whims and fancies of Chevals world.
Because walking was a very essential part in the life of Ferdinand Cheval I included “walking” in the music.
Originally there is a harmonium in the ensemble, but it might be repaced by a Bajan.