/ Music


The 'heart' of the project is the HUMAN Suite for orchestra and percussion. The 60-minute music with 13 pieces of music invites you to dance as well as to a many-faceted exploration of the basic themes of being human:

  • Orchestras can set impressive accents for more humanity with a concert or a concert reading (e.g. with texts on human rights).
  • Dance companies and ballet ensembles have a variety of choreographic possibilities for their own productions with the music. The integration of HUMAN music/individual pieces of music is possible in many subjects, it can inspire project days or a project week, which is rounded off with a community dance performance and in which the school orchestra can also participate.

We would like to invite everyone to set "moving signs" for more humanity with HUMAN music and ideas in many places and ways!

The project office will be pleased to support you with additional information and also arrange contacts.


Who composed the HUMAN music?

The internationally active composer and artist Helge Burggrabe (*1973) initiated HUMAN and composed this music for the project. For him, HUMAN is "an urgent call to breathe new life into UN human rights 75 years after their declaration, using the means of expressive music, dance performance and creative human rights education, especially in today's world".

What are the themes of HUMAN music?

HUMAN music focuses on 13 basic themes of being human and follows a circle of life: it begins with birth, and in short pieces of music brings to life needs such as breath, hunger and thirst as well as the life values of freedom, equality, brotherhood, love, home, protection and community. The music also expresses dimensions of the right to work, rest or creativity and the inevitable death. HUMAN thus addresses life values and longings that connect people of all generations, cultures, life circumstances and world views on this earth.

Albert Schweitzer's conviction "I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live" thus shapes the HUMAN vision and activities. The guiding principles are the UN Human Rights and the Earth Charter.

Can I listen to the HUMAN music online?

The YouTube channel and the website of the HUMAN project offer music videos for selected pieces of the suite. The HUMAN CD trailer can also be seen here. The video includes statements by Helge Burggrabe and the British conductor Duncan Ward.

Is the HUMAN Suite available on CD/Vinyl/digital?

The HUMAN CD is available from the Kulturbüro Burggrabe (; price 20,00 €/CD plus postage; schools, orchestras and theatres can obtain the CD at the special price of 12,00 €/CD plus postage). The HUMAN Music can also be heard on amazon, spotifiy etc.

Who recorded the HUMAN Suite?

The HUMAN Suite was recorded with the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, the Canadian-Palestinian pianist John Kameel Farah and Elbtonal Percussion under the direction of the British conductor Duncan Ward.

Worldwide, the HUMAN CD was published worldwide by the Berlin Classics/Neue Meister label on 13 August 2021.

Are there explanations for each piece of music?

Yes! Helge Burggrabe outlines his thoughts on the 13 pieces of music. The CD booklet contains the texts in English.

01 Birth (5:12)

Similar to an overture, this piece is about preparation, guidance, and beginnings: a veil of sound in the strings, sinking from a high to ever lower registers, announces the start of new life before the heart of the unborn child begins to beat. The moment of birth approaches in waves of ever-increasing intensity, before dying away in a brief postlude.

02 Needs (4:27)

Air, food, and water are essential needs that new-born children demand loudly and relentlessly. This piece “narrates” the immense power of these basic needs, which accompany us throughout our lives. The middle section presents a calmer sense of desire, of longing, before the restatement of the initial theme ushers in a sense of return.

03 Liberty (4:41)

This piece begins in a state of “unfreedom” and helplessness, from which the desire for freedom will ultimately break through and tear down the walls of restriction. Here, the trumpet plays a striking melody, like a song of freedom, which is gradually joined by more and more other instruments. Freedom always depends on the courage of individuals to do something, before growing numbers of others join in, thus creating a powerful movement for freedom.

04 Equality (4:29)

The struggle for equality and equal rights is interpreted as a game of balance in this piece. The vibraphone and piano encircle one another, but in the course of the piece lose their measured balance three times. The use of several keys and the piece’s fragility symbolize the fact that equality is not a one-time promise but must repeatedly be balanced out and won anew.

05 Sisterhood /Brotherhood (4:07)

A strong sisterhood or brotherhood means accepting and respecting our sisters and brothers, no matter how different we are. The piece therefore opens with a dialogue between the horn and the winds and strings in a kind of call-and-response pattern. The middle section sees increasing interaction between the instruments, before many of them take up and embellish the horn theme heard at the beginning.

06 Love (4:04)

The piece opens by heralding the appearance of love with an intimate, almost tender theme in the piano and clarinet. Full of hope, it blossoms, is challenged, and increasingly wears itself out. With the drama intensifying, the love theme confidently reappears and is played forte by the strings. To end, the piece returns to the intimacy of its opening.

07 Home (5:42)

The notion of home is inseparable from its opposite, homelessness, especially if we remember that there are 80 million people around the world who have had to flee their homes. “Home” is therefore a piece of contrasts: a clearly identifiable melody represents home at the beginning. The effect is intensified by the glockenspiel, which recalls the sound of music boxes that give young children a sense of security. This calming harmoniousness, symbolizing safety, is, however, repeatedly lost, torn apart or superimposed musically, and returns in the minor or as fragments. At many points, all that can be sensed is the longing for home.

08 Protection (4:02)

This piece begins with a sense of defencelessness. Capricious interjections in the high flutes and sudden percussive entrances produce an atmosphere of helplessness. It is not until the middle section that piece begins to relax, with the violin rising to a melody in 11/8 time – like a solitary plant slowly beginning to grow in a safe space. But this safe space is fragile. Repeated atonal outbursts are heard, while the shaker, with its steady pulse every second bar, provides a distracting off-beat.

09 Work (4:29)

This piece begins like a machine containing a large number of well-oiled parts: at first, everything runs like clockwork, but twice the processes escalate out of control, then return to order, and the third time drift off into chaos. This metaphor for a purely functional, exploitative economic system that follows only its own brutal logic aims to illustrate the point that man should have the right to meaningful work based on the actual needs of society and his own abilities and skills.

10 Recreation (5:16)

This piece not only addresses the right to recreation but is also something of a “composed-out” pause within the dramaturgy of the orchestral suite as a whole: a time to stop and unwind. In our increasingly hectic and fastmoving times, all of us urgently need to slow down and relax.

11 Creativity (4:27)

Every human being is a source of creative potential just waiting to flourish. This firm belief is expressed by a jazz theme that at times gives way to improvisation, allowing first the pianist and then, in the second half, the percussionist to unleash their creativity. Creativity is always open to new and remarkable impulses, suggested here by the sudden appearance of a striking theme in 7/8 time.

12 Community (6:17)

A sense of community is possible if we learn to respect human rights and other people in all their diversity. This piece therefore resembles a vision of what might be possible when people come together. It opens with the oboe calling the other instruments; a community begins to prosper and celebrate life ever more exuberantly, like a festival of humanity.

13 Death (4:55)

Death interrupts life, sometimes more suddenly than others; every human being is taken from the community and the festival of life. This piece gives them one more chance to look back on the highs and lows of their own lives. Groups of winds and strings increasingly alternate, this and the other world, between ourselves and the beyond. At some point – just like in “Birth” – we again hear a heartbeat. Here it is slowing down and will ultimately stop, enveloped in an ever-rising veil of sound in the strings.

In which languages are the lyrics to the HUMAN pieces of music available?

The project office will send the texts in German, French, Dutch and Spanish as a pdf file.

For which orchestral instrumentation is the HUMAN composition written?

The original instrumentation consists of 41 musicians: 8 violins 1, 6 violins 2, 4 viola, 3 violoncello, 2 double bass, 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets Bb, 2 horns F, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 1 bass tuba, 5 percussion: marimba, taiko drum, vibraphone, bass drum, tam-tam, tubular bells, cymbal, timpani, 1 piano.

A smaller ensemble of 30 musicians is also possible (13 strings, 11 winds, 5 percussion, 1 piano).

Where can I get the score of the HUMAN Suite?

Interested conductors and orchestras are welcome to contact the composer Helge Burggrabe ().

Has there already been a HUMAN Community Dance performance with orchestra?

Yes, the premiere took place at the end of August 2021 at the Theater Bremen. Wilfried van Poppel and Amaya Lubeigt were the choreographic directors. The Konsonanz chamber ensemble, Elbtonal Percussion and pianist John Kameel Farah performed with the conductor Julio Fernandez.