Verwysings na klassieke musiek in Marlene van Niekerk se roman Agaat

18 Jun 2010

Marlene van Niekerk’s novel Agaat (2004) gained great praise for its complex system of references. In the present article the references to classical music are traced. Milla, the main character, received music training and yearns for the intimate feelings she experiences when listening to classical music. But her taste in music creates a barrier between her and her husband Jak. She tries to influence her son Jakkie to be excited about classical music. Agaat is also exposed to classical music on the radio and on records. An investigation of the references to classical music in the novel indicates that Van Niekerk possesses a thorough knowledge of it. She uses these references to paint the characters, their thoughts and their circumstances. In this process she refers to the works of many composers (who are not always mentioned by name): Bach, Bizet, Brahms, Dvořák, Elgar, Falla, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov, Schubert, Schumann, Smetana, Verdi. Her skilful inconspicuous incorporation into the text of changed and/or adapted lines from poems set to music by composers of the German Lied (Brahms, Mahler) is impressive.