Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff – from gurdjieff.org

Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff by Thomas and Olga de Hartmann   When he was at the Prieuré, Mr Gurdjieff worked with me a great deal on music, but not for Movements. The exercises he showed in August 1924 were the last new Movements he ever gave at the Prieuré. Beginning in July 1925 he began to create another kind of music, which flowed richly from him during the next two years. I had a very difficult and trying time with this music. Mr Gurdjieff sometimes whistled or played on the piano with one finger a very complicated sort of melody—as are all Eastern melodies, although they seem at first to be monotonous. To grasp this melody, to transcribe it in European notation, required a tour de force. How it was written down is very interesting in itself. It usually happened in the evening, either in the big salon of the château or in the Study House. From my room I usually heard when Mr Gurdjieff began to play and, taking my music paper, I had to rush downstairs. All the people came soon and the music dictation was always in front of everybody. It was not easy to notate. While listening to him play, I had to scribble down at feverish speed the tortuous shifts and turns of the melody, sometimes a repetition of just two notes. But in what rhythm? How to mark the accentuation? There was no hint of conventional Western metres and tuning. Here was some sort …

The Sound of Gurdjieff – from gurdjieff.org

Although in the past few years various recordings of the music of G. I. Gurdjieff have been issued and are generally available, it may still surprise many who are aware of the Armenian-Greek teacher to learn that he was, in fact, the composer of an impressive number of musical works, mainly for the piano. Gurdjieff’s master-pupil relationship with the Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann has been affectionately chronicled by de Hartmann and his wife, Olga, but the unusual and surely unique musical collaboration between the two men still remains an uncanny phenomenon, producing a result which would have been patently impossible for either one of them alone. The sheer volume of work that emerged from this joining of forces attests to the importance which Gurdjieff seems to have attached to music as an element of his teaching, perhaps even as a repository of precise knowledge. His cosmological ideas make extensive use of the language of musical structure and function. While the earliest and crucially important phase of their collaboration was involved with music for the sacred dances—or Movements, a vital component of Gurdjieff’s method—the compositions included in a recently released four-record album, performed by de Hartmann himself, are not related to the Movements, but are pieces of absolute music, albeit with richly evocative titles. These recordings, made in the 1950s under somewhat casual conditions and with amateur tape equipment, sometimes even without de Hartmann’s knowledge, have now been reengineered with the most advanced techniques. Considering the modesty of the original effort, the results …