Hydras Dream (Matti Bye & Anna Von Hausswolff): The Little Match Girl (Denovali)

Hydras Dream

06.12.14 Stockholm (swe) - Bio Victor Filmhuset (Music for La passion de Jeanne d'Arc)
07.12.14 Stockholm (swe) - Bio Victor Filmhuset (Music for La passion de Jeanne d'Arc)

"Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening-- the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. ..."

Hydras Dream is a special collaboration between the Swedish musicians ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF and MATTI BYE (winner of the Guldbaggen 2014 price for scoring the film drama "Faro" and composer of the film score for "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared"). The concept behind this project is to interpret stories, movies and myths into musical landscapes. For their debut album "The Little Match Girl", von Hausswolff and Bye construed the beautiful and melancholic story by H.C. Andersen of the same title. Asked about the reason for this particular choice, the two musicians state: "It was her tragic faith in the winter's cold that inspired us. She is freezing to death with no money and no comfort, she is all alone, dreaming of a warmer place. When death strikes her she is filled with magical illusions and dreams. Oddly enough, hypothermia and death are the only two comfort zones we experience in this story. Sad but beautiful."

"... The lights [...] rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire. "Someone is just dead!" said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God. She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love. ..."

The music of Hydras Dream is mostly made through improvisation and by using repetitious patterns and melodies. Indeed, the two musicians state "We want to use intuition and spontaneity as two key elements in the compositions, and therefore we don't pre-record anything. We just play whatever feels good and fits the theme and press rec." Thus it is no surprise that "The Little Match Girl" was written and recorded during only three days in Matti Bye's studio. Exploring the entire spectrum of their instruments, von Hausswolff and Bye ingeniously combined their virtuosity in order to craft an eclectic and delicate album, located somewhere inbetween neo-classical experimentalism and avantgarde dream-pop. One can virtually image how the notes of this debut faintly resound behind the candle-lit windows which separate the little match girl from the life-saving warmth, how their echoes join her in her inevitable fate ...

"... But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall -- frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. [...] "She wanted to warm herself," people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year."

Matti Bye & This Forgotten Land (Joel Danell & John Henriksson), Live at Café OTO, London March 3rd. 

Matti Bye Café OTO

Matti Bye Café OTO
Photos by: Dawid Laskowski

View more photos from the evening here:

Matti Bye: Bethanien LP (Tona Serenad)

Matti Bye - Bethanien

It began in 2010. If you were anywhere near Oranienstraße, you may have heard it as it traveled through the hallways of a Kreuzberg artist residence once used as a hospital, as it passed you by and continued across the canal, along the piers. The sound of Matti Bye carefully pressing the keys of an old grand piano. Its singing tones taking flight for all of Kreuzberg to hear. Illuminated by the stars of a clear winter sky. Illuminated by the beams of a scorching summer sun. Kreuzberg wasn't always like this.

In 1847, Kreuzberg's Bethanien hospital opened its doors to the public. If you didn't know better, you may have gone there for medical treatment. If you didn't know better, that is. Most did. If the sight of the makeshift, outdoor operating tables didn't change your mind, maybe a perfectly rational fear of infection did. If you still, despite even the notion of contracting some new disease, chose to enter, being denied treatment was still a possible out. Not because you weren't in need, but rather to teach you a lesson. A lesson of patience. Bethanien hospital was not one of repute.

In an otherwise war-torn Berlin, Bethanien was somehow spared. This, however, did little to improve its reputation. By the 1970s, the hospital yard had been taken over by squatters. The hospital itself was no longer in use and, in time, it developed into an artist residence.

It ended in 2013. Finally, the sound of Matti Bye playing his grand piano was captured. Gently accompanied by layers of shimmering, soaring soundscapes. Produced and tastefully engineered in the Wiener Futurismo studio by Joel Danell. The result is soulful, haunting and melodic. Matti Bye's Bethanien takes you, the listener, on a lyrical journey into the world of dreams and illusions.


Matti Bye (Born 1966) is widely considered as one of Sweden's most important composers of film scores and an extraordinary performer with his own, incomparable style of improvisation on the piano. He is also widely recognized for having written a series of innovative scores for such early Swedish silent film classics as Phantom Carriage by Victor Sjöström, Häxan by Benjamin Christensen, and Gösta Berling Saga by Mauritz Stiller, now included on a 6 DVD box set released by Svensk Filmindustri, SF, as well as countless other silent films. Last year he wrote the score for Academy Award nominee Jan Troell's latest feature Everlasting Moments and Stig Björkmans "Scenes from a playhouse" – a documentary about Ingmar Bergman.
Matti Bye's work is also concerned with the tension, which exists between moving image, sound and music. He has recently engaged with collaborative projects involving an esthetic and performative language proper to the contemporary visual arts. Beyond the medium, his work takes the viewer on a unique and lyrical journey of the world of dreams and illusions through a multi-sensorial experience of storytelling.

Music for film:

  • 2013 – Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann (Felix Herngren)
  • 2013 – Faro (Fredrik Edfelt)
  • 2011 – Snigeln (short, Jan Troell)
  • 2011 – Bibliotekstjuven (TV series)
  • 2010 – Filmen var min älskarinna "…But Film is My Mistress" (documentary about Ingmar Bergman)
  • 2010 – Sebbe (Babak Najafi)
  • 2009 – Bilder från lekstugan "Images from The Playground" (documentary about Ingmar Bergman)
  • 2009 – Elkland (short)
  • 2008 – Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick "Everlasting Moments" (Jan Troell)
  • 2008 – Mellan oss (short)
  • 2007 – Fritt fall (short)
  • 2006 – En uppstoppad hund (TV movie)
  • 2006 – Quinze (short)
  • 2006 – Brevbärarens hemlighet (short)
  • 2005 – Krama mig "Love and Happiness" (Kristina Humle)
  • 2005 – En god dag "A Good Day" (short)
  • 1999 – Vuxna människor (Felix Henrgren)
  • 1998 – Homo Sapiens 1900 (documentary by Peter Cohen)
  • 1995 – Sista skriket "The Last Gasp" (TV play by Ingmar Bergman)
  • 1924 – Gösta Berling Saga "The Saga of Gosta Berling" (Mauritz Stiller)
  • 1922 – Häxan "Witchcraft through ages" (restored version: 2006)
  • 1921 – Körkarlen "Phantom Carriage" (Victor Sjöström)
  • 1920 – Erotikon (Mauritz Stiller)
  • 1919 – Herr Arnes Pengar "Sir Arnes´s Treasures" (Mauritz Stiller)
  • 1916 – Dödskyssen (short) (restored version: 2002)