Sound Poem Inspired by Nosferatu by Karel Suchy was premiered in October 2008, then updated, and performed again in October 2010 by the Choral Arts Society. Some recorded tracks were played with the live chorus and keyboards during this performance, but the piece may be performed by orchestral instruments along with electronic music. In 2010 Original poetry by the Kenosha Writers Guild was read by RG Productions and students from the UW-Parkside theater program, as well as dance, a buffet of German cuisine, and sculpture courtesy of ArtWorks Gallery were added.
Rather than a write a typical film score, Karel intended this work to complement the film, yet stand alone as a tone poem. The score draws on a wide variety of musical styles, including early modal music, modern classical, Appalachian hymnody and rock ballad. A sense of foreboding is achieved through the use of an “altered gypsy scale” to represent the evil Nosferatu. Ellen’s leitmotiv employs chant-like phrases in Dorian mode. These appear several times separately and in tandem throughout the score. Hutter, in his “gung-ho” mood, is represented by the use of E-flat major, but when he is running from Nosferatu, by the whole-step scale. The emotional, dramatic and philosophical elements of the film are further articulated through techniques such as the overlay of traditional Croft “Burial Sentences” on newly composed passages in Aeolian mode/minor scale, using “Dies Irae” lyrics in the “altered gypsy” scale, and the combination of live music with concrete music (a montage of recorded natural sounds). The choral writing achieves a pulsating harmonic texture by rapidly shifting from thin unison to rich eight-part harmonization. Lyrics are interspersed with “aahs” in portions of the choral arrangements, and are not used at all in other sections.
“Flowers” is a love theme that alludes to the concept of death and rebirth, the gift of flowers for Ellen, and her eventual self-sacrifice. “The Day Before Easter,” in the style of a Gaelic/Appalachian hymn tune, reflects the ambivalence many of us feel when called upon to make a difficult sacrifice. “Psalm 23 Love Song” is in the form of a rock ballad, and expresses comfort and hope.