1405: Der Brand von Bern

From Wind Repertory Project
Mario Bürki

Mario Bürki

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General Info

Year: 2004
Duration: c. 15:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Musikverlag Frank
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - £119.60


1. Am Rande Der Stad - 2:32
2. Die Kirchenglocken Aus Der Ferne - 1:30
3. Die Stadttore öffnen Sich - 00:41
4. Auf Dem Markt - 01:49
5. Shortcut: Dort Wo Der Brand Ausbrechen Wird - 00:38
6. Zurück Auf Dem Markt - 00:10
7. Der Brand Bricht Aus-Der Funke Springt - 01:09
8. Bern Brennt! - 2:25
9. Die Aare-Wasser Gegen Feuer - 00:58
10. Nach Dem Brand - 00:44
11. Die Stadt Erholt Sich-Finale - 01:13


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

(Percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

A strong draught and a spark were all it took. In the afternoon of 14 May 1405 a fire started in the Brunngasse in Bern whose cause is a mystery to this day. The fire spread rapidly. The following morning over 600 houses lay in ruins and more than 100 people had died in the inferno. The people of Bern were warned. A fire in the Junkerngasse destroyed 52 houses on 28 April 1405, a bad omen predicting further suffering, according to the reports in the chronicles of the city of Bern, written by city clerk Konrad Justinger.

Disaster struck fast. It was very windy on 14 May 1405. A stiff breeze came in from the northeast. Around 4 pm fire broke out on the south side of the Brunngasse. Nobody knew where it had started. Initial suspicion or blame for the tragedy fell on a few different groups of people at first. However, the fire was most probably caused by a spark from a furnace or by a tipped-over oil lamp, setting alight the straw that commonly covered the floor in houses of that time. In any case, the fire spread rapidly due to the strong wind. Within just a quarter of an hour after the fire broke out, the entire west side of the Zähringer Quarter stood in flames; the fire then spread over the old city moat and, despite desperate attempts to extinguish the flames, the fire spread further throughout the evening and nighttime, eventually engulfing the entire inner Neustadt-quarter all the way to the prison tower (Käfigturm). The Marzili Quarter was the last part of the city to be devastated before the natural course of the river Aare stopped further spreading of the fire.

The piece 1405: Der Brand von Bern is the composer’s romantic description of the events of that now infamous day. It could be the sound track of an imaginary movie, in praise of the great names of the film music industry such as John Williams, Rachel Portman, Trevor Jones and Allen Silvestri, to name but a few.

The screenplay to this music could read like this:

1. At The Outskirts of Town: Bern from afar: We are quietly standing on a hill near a forest and watch down onto the city glistening in the sunrise.
2. The Church Bells from Afar (Die Kirchenglocken aus der Ferne): The bells of the town church start sounding, quietly at first, as we slowly approach to the city walls.
3. The Town Gates Open: We watch the city gates open and move through the alleys towards the town centre.
4. At The Market: Suddenly we find ourselves at the marketplace. There is a happy buzz in the air: Children laugh, men drink, the blacksmith forges, horses trot.
5. Shortcut: To the place of the source of the fire: Scene change: In the old town we see the candle, the lamp, or whatever item that will cause the fire.
6. Back at the Market: Scene change: Back at the market. Everyone is having a great time, unaware of the looming tragedy.
7. The Fire Breaks Out: A Spark Ignites the Straw" Scene change: Again, back in the old town at the source of the fire. A spark falls onto the straw covered floor, immediately igniting it.
8. Inferno!: Within no time the entire house is engulfed in flames! Mighty and with an imposing beauty the fire spreads, drowning the entire old town in a sea of flames.
9. The Aare River: Water against Fire!: Nothing seems to be able to stop the inferno until, finally, the Aare River mercilessly imposes its authority, denying the fire’s desire of spreading even further!
10. After the Fire...: The entire town seems lonely and deserted. But the end of the existence of the old town also marks a new beginning. The reconstruction effort to rebuild the entire town begins. Instead of the old wooden structures the people of Bern rebuild their city in stone. The town raises from the ashes, eventually shining again in a new beauty!

- Program Note from score



State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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