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Listen To The Painting: Artist Paul Klee’s Influence On Contemporary Music

During his life and work, the painter Paul Klee was surrounded by music and musicians. It follows that the unique rhythms and expressions in the artist's work -- and his intellectual musings -- would eventually influence generations of composers

A music and dance performance at the Paul Klee museum in Bern, Switzerland
A music and dance performance at the Paul Klee museum in Bern, Switzerland
Marie-Aude Roux

PARIS - He liked Bach, Brahms and Mozart. In 1906 he acquired a magnificent Testore violin dating back to 1712, which he played every morning before painting, thus incorporating the living art of sound into his paintings. Even if, in Paul Klee's opinion, the golden age of music disappeared with Bach and Mozart in the 18th century, the Swiss-born artist nevertheless followed the music of some of his contemporaries (Debussy's Pelléas and Mélisande, Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire), even becoming friends with some of them, including Igor Stravinsky and Béla Bartok. In turn, music was bound to follow him.

Klee left a body of work of more than 9,000 paintings and drawings, as well as innovative writings, including Theory Of Modern Art and Contributions To The Theory Of Pictorial Form. His thoughts and paintings would end up serving as inspiration to many contemporary musicians. From Pierre Boulez to Bruno Mantovani, from Sandor Veress to Tan Dun, and many others, including Japanese jazz pianist Takashi Kako (with Klee: Suite For Piano in 1986) and Bad News From The Stars by the French musician Serge Gainsbourg, named after the title of a drawing by Klee, which Gainsbourg himself owned.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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