Osnat Netzer

Diaphanous Diaphony (2021)

PRIMAVERA III the vessel

from the composer

Diaphanous Diaphony reconceives the dance of the Graces in Boticelli’s Primavera with attention to the kinetic features of their physicality, emotion, and environment. In Primavera, the Graces’ expressions are earnest, almost solemn. Nevertheless, their dance is light and buoyant, embodied in the fabric of their dresses, which are often described as “diaphanous,” meaning light, delicate and translucent. In my piece, a cello technique called “natural harmonics” reflects this ideal of the “diaphanous”, as it correspondingly produces pure, high tones of a translucent quality. The cellist infuses this contemporary playing technique, embodying the “diaphanous” into a texture known as Diaphony: a historic, two-part compositional style, which would have been familiar to composers of Botticelli’s time. The infusion of the contemporary into Renaissance forms also characterizes Charline von Heyl’s reimagining of the Graces in Primavera 2020, which features the Graces outlined and obscured by the same brush strokes, offering a vision in which art overcomes the boundaries of the bodily, the earthly. Similarly, my imagined dance demands of the cellist what I imagine is demanded of earthly dancers: virtuosic viscerality, in service of spirited sprightliness.


Osnat Netzer /osˈnat ˈnɛtsɛʁ/ is an Israeli-American composer, performer and educator. Her kinetic, visceral and highly theatrical compositions take inspiration from Embodied Cognition, Cognitive Linguistics, and Composed Theatre, have been commissioned and performed by soprano Lucy Dhegrae, bass David Salsbery Fry, saxophonists Kenneth Radnofsky, Doug O’Connor and Geoffrey Landman, Patchwork, ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Spektral Quartet and Winsor Music, among many others, published by Edition Peters and earthsongs, and recorded on Bridge Records and New Focus Recordings.

Her opera, The Wondrous Woman Within, was described as “riotously funny” in The New York Times when its first scene was performed at New York City Opera’s VOX festival in 2012 and “challenging and fascinating” by critic Amir Kidron when it received its premiere in a sold out run at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theatre in 2015.

As a pianist and performer, she regularly plays and conducts new music by fellow composers, as well as her own songs and compositions. Also a committed and passionate educator, Netzer teaches at The Walden School and has served on the faculties of New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music of Bard College and Harvard University. In 2019, she joined the faculty of DePaul University as Assistant Professor of Composition and Musicianship.