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Anna Enquist

Anna Enquist is the pseudonym for Dutch writer Christa Widlund-Broer. She was born in Amsterdam in 1945 and grew up in Delft. She studied clinical psychology in Leiden and then studied piano and cello at the Conservatorium in Den Haag. In the 1980’s she returned to Amsterdam and became a psychoanalyst.

Enquist began writing poetry and in 1991 published a collection called ‘Soldatenliederen’ (Soldier’s Songs). It was awarded the C. Buddingh Prize. In an interview she cited a link between her psychology work and her poetry explaining it is a question of balancing analysis and feeling.

Musical imagery
In 1994 Enquist published her first novel ‘Het meesterstuk’ (The Masterpiece) for which she received the Debut Prize. It is a modern retelling of Mozart’s opera ‘Don Giovanni.’ Classical music also plays a central role in her second novel ‘Het geheim’ (The Secret) in which a concert pianist sees music as a way of escaping reality. Three storylines run through the book like a musical composition, interwoven with details of piano playing and musical imagery.

Enquist’s 2005 historical novel ‘De thuiskomst’ (The Homecoming) focused on the wife of 18th century explorer James Cook. But she returned to classical music for her latest book ‘Contrapunt’ (Counterpoint). After the death of her daughter, a woman is practicing Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ which the composer wrote out of grief for his dead son. Enquist’s own daughter was killed in a traffic accident in 2001 and the moving story could be read as a memorial.

Vlaams Nederlands Huis de Buren Radio Netherlands The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature

This author's Radio Book:

Anna Enquist
The Musician

It should come as no surprise that Enquist’s contibution for Radiobooks is set in the classical music world. A cellist who has some serious psychological issues prepares for a performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 59 no. 1 in F major.

“As a cellist you have two functions. You are the guardian of the depths; you have to play the lowest tones full and pure so that the high instruments can ring out gloriously above. You are also in conversation with the first violin. Then you climb into the heights and play virtuoso solos hoping that the viola will support you with a steady bass line. You have to move with lightning speed between these two roles. On the same instrument! With the same arms! The same head!”

The Musician by Anna Enquist was translated by Michael O’Loughlin. The story is read by Jacky Spears.

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