Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music
Gurdjieff’s music divides into three unique periods. The “first period” is the early music, which includes music from the ballet Struggle of the Magicians and music for early movements dating to the years around 1918.
The “second period” music, for which Gurdjieff arguably became widely known, written in collaboration with Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann, is described as the Gurdjieff de Hartmann music. Dating far back to the mid-1920s, it offers a rich repertory which can be traced to Caucasian and Central Asian folk and religious music, Russian Orthodox liturgical music, and many other sources.
This music was frequently first heard in the salon at the Prieuré, where much was composed. Since the publication of four volumes of this piano repertory by Schott, as of late finished, there has been an abundance of new recordings, including orchestral versions of music arranged by Gurdjieff and de Hartmann for the Movements exhibitions of 1923–24.
Last Musical Period
What is known as the “last musical period”, it is the improvised harmonium music which regularly followed the dinners Gurdjieff held at his Paris apartment during the Occupation and immediate post-war years to his demise in 1949.
On the whole, Gurdjieff in collaboration with de Hartmann composed some 200 pieces.
In May 2010, 38 minutes of unreleased solo piano music on acetate was bought by Neil Kempfer Stocker from the estate of his late step-daughter, Dushka Howarth. In 2009, pianist Elan Sicroff released Laudamus: The Music of Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, comprising of a selection of Gurdjieff/de Hartmann collaborations (also three early romantic works composed by de Hartmann in his teens). In 1998 Alessandra Celletti released “Hidden Sources (Kha Records) with 18 tracks by Gurdjieff/de Hartmann.
On April 7th at Wolf Performance Hall in London, Ontario, the London Gurdjieff Group will present the unique music of legendary mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, featuring Cecilia Ignatieff on piano.
Thomas de Hartmann
Thomas de Hartmann (1885–1956) and his wife Olga first met Gurdjieff in 1916 at Saint Petersburg. They stayed Gurdjieff’s close students until 1929. All through this time, they lived at Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man near Paris.
Between July 1925 and May 1927 Thomas de Hartmann transcribed and co-wrote some of the music that Gurdjieff collected and used for his Movements exercises.
They collaborated on hundreds of pieces of concert music composed for the piano. This concert music was first recorded and published privately from the 1950s to 1980s; then first issued publicly as the Music of Gurdjieff / de Hartmann, Thomas de Hartmann, piano by Triangle Records, with 49 tracks on 4 vinyl disks in 1988, then reissued as a 3-CD set in containing 56 tracks in 1989.
A more extensive compilation was later issued as the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music for the Piano in 4 printed volumes by Schott between 1996 and 2005, and as audio CDs under the same title in four volumes with nine discs recorded with three concert pianists, by Schott/Wergo between 1997 and 2001. Olga de Hartmann (née Arkadievna, 1885–1987) was Gurdjieff’s personal secretary during their Prieuré years and took most firsthand dictations of his writings during that period.
She also authenticated Gurdjieff’s early talks in the book Views from the Real World (1973). The de Hartmann’s memoir, Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff (1st ed, 1964, 2nd ed, 1983, 3rd ed 1992), records their Gurdjieff years in great detail. Their Montreal Gurdjieff group, literary and musical estate is represented by retired Canadian National Film Board producer Tom Daly.