The music of G. I. Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann resonates with the human spirit, its mystery, possibilities and questions.
Composed in Russia and later in France, largely between 1918 and 1927, the music flowing from their collaboration is unmistakable, like no other. Initially composed to accompany the growing repertory of Movements, it includes what ultimately became four full volumes of music intended for concert performance, though the word “concert” doesn’t capture its intimate call to presence, its evocation of stillness and sensitive listening, its awakening power. This music is a treasure of the Gurdjieff teaching.
The co-composers were necessary to one another. Gurdjieff brought to their collaboration both innate creativity and a storehouse of traditional music remembered from his travels across the Caucasus and beyond. On his side, Thomas de Hartmann had studied composition in the Imperial Conservatory of Music with the brightest lights of that era, including Rimsky-Korsakov, and was recognized as one of the most promising young composers of his generation. Becoming pupils of Gurdjieff in 1916, de Hartmann and his wife Olga followed Gurdjieff out of the turmoil of revolution and civil war through many trials until they found stable, creative working conditions in 1922 at Gurdjieff’s newly founded Institute in France, the Prieuré.
Today, musicians in the Work closely study how to play the repertory as it deserves to be played, how to listen attentively, how to move the hands over the piano keys, how to follow the mercurial paths of the original notation. Those listening have a similar experience: the music provokes certain feelings through its many unexpected mutations of key and melodic line. Performing the concert music, listening, and participating in the Movements with their marvelously rich musical support are practices in attention.
The Complete Music Composed by Gurdjieff and De Hartmann
The sequence of pieces in these recordings follows precisely the sequence in the printed music. There are numerous other recordings of the music.
Asian Songs And Rhythms: Music For The Piano, Volume I
Performed by Linda Daniel-Spitz, Charles Ketcham, and Laurence Rosenthal
Music Of The Sayyids And The Dervishes: Music For The Piano, Volume II
Performed by Laurence Rosenthal, Linda Daniel-Spitz, and Charles Ketcham
Hymns, Prayers, And Rituals, Music For The Piano, Volume III
Performed by Laurence Rosenthal and Charles Ketcham
Hymns Of The Great Temple And Other Selected Works: Music For The Piano, Volume IV
Performed by Laurence Rosenthal and Charles Ketcham
Laurence Rosenthal has composed extensively for film, television, and theater, earning two Oscar nominations, seven Emmy awards, and most recently a 2023 lifetime achievement award at the World Soundtrack Awards. He co-edited the definitive Gurdjieff/de Hartmann piano music published by Schott, and has performed numerous concerts and recorded several albums. He also scored the music for the film "Meetings with Remarkable Men."
George Dunnebacke was a student of the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music for more than forty years, working at Gurdjieff centers in San Francisco, New York, and Cambridge. He was director of the music program in Cambridge for several years. The excerpts on this site come from a public concert he gave during that time.
Thomas de Hartmann, piano
The Music of Gurdjieff, de Hartmann – 3 CDs, box set
Yleana Bautista de la Torre, piano
Rio Arriba: Music of Gurdjieff-de Hartmann (2011) Mexico City, Mexico: Ediciones Bajio, 2013
Gurdjieff, de Hartmann
Mexico City, Mexico: Gurdjieff Foundation of Mexico, 2012
Keith Jarrett, piano
Sacred Hymns of G.I. Gurdjieff (2000)
Charles Ketcham, piano
In Search of the Sacred, Music of Gurdjieff, de Hartmann, Volume I, 2014
Alain Kremski, piano
Gurdjieff, de Hartmann, Volume 1 & 2: Seekers of the Truth, 1988
Gurdjieff, de Hartmann, Volume 3: Sacred Hymns, 1989
Gurdjieff, de Hartmann, Volume 4 & 5: Songs and Rhythms of Asia, 1989
Gurdjieff, de Hartmann, Volume 6: Ritual of a Sufi Order, 1990
Thomas de Hartmann was already an acclaimed Russian composer when he met G.I. Gurdjieff in 1916. He and his wife escaped the Russian Revolution and civil war with Gurdjieff and his followers, traveling through the Caucasus, then Constantinople, and finally settling outside Paris in 1922. For the five years that followed, he and Gurdjieff collaborated on hundreds of piano pieces -- initially, accompaniments to Gurdjieff's sacred dances and the unfinished ballet "The Struggle of the Magicians", and later a wide variety of pieces intended for quiet listening and contemplation. While printed music for the sacred dances is not publicly available, a definitive collection of the other pieces has been published as a four-volume set.
G.I. Gurdjieff, Thomas de HartmannMusic for the Piano, Volume II: Music of the Sayyids and the DervishesMainz, Germany: Schott Musik International, 1996
G.I. Gurdjieff, Thomas de HartmannMusic for the Piano, Volume III: Hymns, Prayers and RitualsMainz, Germany: Schott Musik International, 2002
G.I. Gurdjieff, Thomas de HartmannMusic for the Piano, Volume IV: Hymns from a Great Temple and Other Selected WorksMainz, Germany: Schott Musik International, 2005