"What you perceive is not the fact that they desired men," says composer Georg Friedrich Haas about composers who were forced to hide their homosexuality, "but the sadness about the impossibility to make love a reality. And I think that has been part of my music. The fundamental pessimism. You never will get what you want because it's not possible to get it. That is how my life has changed so intensely."
In an interview with the New York Times as well as in other venues, Haas is opening up about his fourth marriage, which he says has transformed his work. Haas has been married for several months to Mollena Williams-Haas, and the couple choose to enact a dominant-submissive power dynamic.
Williams-Haas, who takes the role of submissive in the relationship, is active as an educator and storyteller and brands herself "the delicate, trembling flower of submission." She and her husband hope that sharing their story will help other couples who desire BDSM relationships (defined by Wikipedia as "a variety of erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other interpersonal dynamics") to be comfortable with themselves and to find positive relationships with like-minded partners.
Haas tells the New York Times that finding love and satisfaction with his wife have enabled him to become more productive, and for his music to take a more hopeful turn. The couple's sexual relationship is just a small part of their broader relationship dynamic, in which Williams-Haas supports her husband while he works. "I find intense fulfillment in being able to serve in this way," she tells the Times.
The composer, whose microtonal music was influenced by that of György Ligeti, teaches at Columbia University. His piece In iij. Noct is being performed today in New York by the JACK Quartet, who will play — as per the composer's specification — entirely in the dark.
"The submissive person who is willingly giving over his or her agency can be getting precisely what he or she wants," the quartet's cellist Kevin McFarland told the Times. "In the darkness there's a sub space that the audience can enter."