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International Review

Summer 1999 Issue, Vol. II No. 4

The Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music


Gurdjieff embodied his teaching in three forms: ideas (both written and oral), movements, and music. An accomplished professional composer, Thomas de Hartmann collaborated on several hundred musical compositions with Gurdjieff in the 1920s. This issue is focused on this music and its legacy.

On Listening to the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music

This anonymous commentary was written for the Gurdjieff International Review by a senior member of the Gurdjieff Society in London. For the author, “it became apparent that for music to say what it had to say depended as much on the listening as what was listened to.”

Music: Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff

Written by Thomas and Olga de Hartmann, this account of the musical collaboration between Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann was first published as Chapter 25 of Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff: Definitive Edition.

The Music of Gurdjieff / de Hartmann
G-H Records

Three selections of piano music from G-H Records, chosen with commentary by Tom Daly, are performed by Thomas de Hartmann and reproduced in audio (MP3) format. In addition to carrying the authority of being the composer’s recordings, these evocative performances from the 1950’s are unsurpassed in their own right.

Music Manuscript Sample Page
Thomas de Hartmann

This first page of Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, Holy Reconciling is taken from de Hartmann’s music manuscripts. It is also partially reproduced in the Triangle Editions record album and CD notes. Besides showing de Hartmann’s elegant music calligraphy, it contains his English handwriting, and connects to expressions used in Beelzebub’s Tales.

The Sound of Gurdjieff
Laurence Rosenthal

This essay was originally published in Parabola Magazine, Volume XI (3) 1985, as a review of the four-record album brought out by Triangle Editions in 1985. Reprinted with kind permission of Parabola and the author.

Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music for the Piano
Wergo / Schott Recordings

Eugene E. Foster provides an appreciative introduction to the four volume series of compact discs and printed music issued by Wergo / Schott Music in Mainz, Germany. It forms the most comprehensive set of recordings and sheet music available of the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann music. Piano performances are by Linda Daniel-Spitz, Charles Ketcham and Laurence Rosenthal.

Gurdjieff and Music
Laurence Rosenthal

The original English version of this essay was first published in Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teaching, New York: Continuum, 1996, pages 301–310. Reprinted with kind permission of the author.

Music for the Film Meetings with Remarkable Men
Laurence Rosenthal

This account of the challenges film composer Laurence Rosenthal encountered when selecting and adapting music for Peter Brook’s film of Gurdjieff’s book was originally circulated as an insert in some of the press packets released with the film in 1978. Updated for this publication, Mr. Rosenthal emphasizes the importance of Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann’s music in the film.

On Thomas de Hartmann
Thomas C. Daly and Thomas A. G. Daly

On Olga de Hartmann
Thomas C. Daly and Thomas A. G. Daly

These two biographical sketches were originally published in Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff: Definitive Edition, London: Penguin Arkana, 1992, 277p.

Attention—Wish—Will—Free Will
A Talk by Mr. de Hartmann

Tom Daly read Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous on its publication in 1949, then had the good fortune to meet and befriend the de Hartmanns while they were living near Montreal in 1951. First published here, he describes the setting and impact of Thomas de Hartmann’s 1954 talk to the then fledgling Toronto group.

A Special Evening at the Essentuki Social Club

Tom Daly recounts a day in 1918 when Thomas de Hartmann learned a painful lesson from Mr. Gurdjieff.

Other New Features

The Strait Gate
Basarab Nicolescu

First published in Poésie 99 (78) Paris, June 1999, this essay is translated from the French “La Porte Étroite” by Martha Heyneman for its first English publication here. Nicolescu points out that “It is high time to undertake a serious inquiry into the relation between Daumal’s own work and the influence Gurdjieff’s teaching had upon him,” and calls for the undertaking of such “a detailed study conducted in conformity with all the rules of scholarship.” We propose Kathleen Rosenblatt’s recent René Daumal: The Life of a Mystic Guide as a candidate for this position.

Daumal with Gurdjieff and the de Salzmanns
Kathleen F. Rosenblatt

The first part of Chapter 9 from Kathleen Rosenblatt’s recent book René Daumal: The Life and Work of a Mystic Guide, (1999) New York: SUNY Press, is reproduced by permission of the State University of New York Press and the author.

About This Issue

The Gurdjieff International Review is published by Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing. Any information or opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editors.

Image by Lewis Boadle

“I had a very difficult and trying time with this music. Mr Gurdjieff sometimes whistled or played on the piano with one finger a very complicated sort of melody—as are all Eastern melodies, although they seem at first to be monotonous. To grasp this melody, to transcribe it in European notation, required a tour de force.

Thomas de Hartmann

“It is the consistency and objectivity of his [Gurdjieff’s] essential tone that is so compelling. Whether in a delicate dance, a soulful song, or an uncompromisingly stark hymn, one hears always his call to return to and confront one’s inmost being.”

Laurence Rosenthal

“The music is very varied, from folk songs to sacred hymns, and the responses evoked are equally varied, sometimes speaking of the suffering and joy of a human life, sometimes eliciting a strange and quite unfamiliar coloration of the feelings, and sometimes, for me at least, as if conveying a definite knowledge hidden from my ordinary thoughts.”


“We had been brought to a level of pondering we had never before experienced. Finally she [Olga de Hartmann] planted a seed that grew inside this silence: ‘There is only one important thing—to actually develop our possibilities. We should not be content with anything else, or anything less.’”

Thomas C. Daly

“An object attracts us; we do not attract the object. Objects govern us from outside. They make us do all sorts of things. It is not the woman who buys the hat, but the hat buys the woman. The man does not smoke the cigarette; the cigarette smokes the man, as Mr. Gurdjieff said. The attention and the will generated by outside objects, through the senses, are not our own. They are part of the mechanism of Nature: Nature works us. We do not conquer Nature; Nature conquers us.”

Thomas de Hartmann

“In order to awaken you have to think: ‘all this agitation is external to me.’ You need an act of reflection. But if this act sets off in you new automatisms, in one’s memory and one’s reasoning process, your voice could continue to maintain that you were still reflecting: but instead you would have again fallen asleep. Thus you can spend entire days without awakening for a single instant. Waking is not a state but an act.

René Daumal

Copyright © 1999
Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing

February 16, 2018