Reading Malevich

for orchestra

Commissioned by ROCHE COMMISSIONS for Lucerne Festival


First performance: 1st September 2018, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra
Conductor: Matthias Pintscher


The task I set myself for Reading Malevich was to transform an image, an optical event, into music. I selected the painting Suprematismus No. 56 by Kazimir Malevich as my starting point. Malevich uses the term suprematism to describe his purely abstract series of paintings, which began with his radical work Black Square (1915).
My work is in two parts: Horizontal and Vertical. This is a reference to the observer´s line of sight and reading direction. Within these two principal parts, individual sections refer to recognisable forms in Malevich´s painting: The Brown Rectangle, The Pale Yellow Shadow Before The Red Rectangle, etc. In certain passages, these forms represented by the orchestral tutti are inscribed with corresponding details from the painting.

/Peter Eötvös – 2018/


4 Jun, 2024
Vienna, Austria

Eötvös: Harp concerto, Reading Malevich

Xavier de Maistre, harp
Radio Symphonic Orchestra


28 May, 2024
Tokyo, Japan

Eötvös: Reading Malevich, Harp concerto

Xavier de Maistre, harp
Conductor: TBC
NHK Orchestra


2 Mar, 2024
Geneva, Switzerland

Eötvös: Harp concerto, Reading Malevich

Xavier de Maistre, harp
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

14 Apr, 2023
Torino, Italy

Eötvös: Reading Malevich

Conductor: Robert Trevino
Torino RAI Orchestra
More info >

21 Feb, 2020
Budapest, Hungary

Eötvös: Atlantis, Dialog mit Mozart, Reading Malevich

Zsolt Haja, baritone
Miklós Lukács, cimbalom
Boy sopran, Radio Childrenchoir

Cond: Peter Eötvös
Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra


12 Sep, 2018
Hamburg, Germany

Eötvös: Reading Malevich

Máté Bella: Lethe
B.A. Zimmermann: Dialoghi
Kurtág: Stele
Eötvös: Reading Malevich (German premiere)

Conductor: Peter Eötvös
Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra

1 Sep, 2018
Luzern, Switzerland

Reading Malevich

Conductor: Matthias Pintscher
Orchestra: Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra
Venue: KKL Konzertsaal, Luzern


18 minutes

Publisher information


TITLE Dur. Soloists & choir fl ob cl bcl bn   hn tpt tbn tba   perc pf hp   vn1 vn2 va vc db Other Tech
Reading Malevich
Orchestra - Chamber Orchestra
18'33303 4331 401 141410862sax,​ cel,​ cymb,​ ham,​ Egtr,​ Bgtramp

3 Oboes (3rd doubling cor anglais)

3 Clarinets in A (3rd doubling bass clarinet)

3 Bassoons (3rd doubling double bassoon)


4 Horns in F

3 Trumpets in C (straight, cup, wawa, hannon)

3 Trombones with F attachment (straight, cup, harmon)

2 Saxophones (tenor and baritone)

Tuba (sord.)



(4 players) Glockenspiel (with pedal)

Crotales (2 octaves), 4 Gongs

Tam-tam (Wuhan, 80 cm)

Tambourine (only jingles)

Wind chimes (metal)

Guiro (low, long bamboo)



Chinese cymbal

3 Gongs

Snare drum



2 Gongs

Chinese cymbal

2 Maracas (very high/high)



Triangle (high)

Tam-tam (Wuhan, 100 cm)


Harp, amplified

Celesta, amplified

Cimbalom, amplified

Hammond organ (Digital with Leslie-Cabinet) (e.g. Typ: nordC2D)

Electric guitar (also with E-Bow), amplified

Bass guitar (also with E-Bow), amplified

14 Violins I

14 Violins II


8 Violoncellos

6 Double basses

Further information

Die Aufgabe, die ich mir für Reading Malevich stellte, bestand darin, ein Bild, ein optisches Ereignis in Klänge umzusetzen. Als Ausgangspunkt habe ich das Bild Suprematismus No. 56 von Kasimir Malewitsch gewählt. Mit Suprematismus bezeichnet der Maler seine gegenstandslose Bildreihe, die auf das radikale Werk Schwarzes Quadrat (1915) zurückgeht.
Mein Stück hat zwei Teile: Horizontal und Vertikal. Gemeint sind damit die Blick- bzw. Leserichtungen des Betrachters. Innerhalb der zwei Hauptteile beziehen sich die Abschnitte auf die im Bild erkennbaren Formen: The Brown Rectangle, The Pale Yellow Shadow Before The Red Rectangle, etc. An einigen Stellen sind diesen durch das Orchestertutti repräsentierten Formen noch korrespondierende Bilddetails eingeschrieben.

/Peter Eötvös – 2018/


Academy Orchestra Luzern – 2018
cond.: Matthias Pintscher