People have always been explored their own identity. They find self-confirmation through a glance in the mirror. Some fall in love with their own image; others despair when faced with naked reality. It's a theme that has inspired many composers, and presents musical reflections from a variety of epochs. We also see in this playlist how, on the abstract level, the idea of reflection has offered the starting point for refined compositional experiments.Read more…
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" asks the the vain Queen. For her, the answer is already clear, since no one can overshadow her. So she's all the more furious when the magic mirror tells her that Snow White is a 1,000 times fairer than she. In Karlheinz Stockhausen's opera cycle 'Licht', Eve, the archetype of suggestible womanhood, is reflected in a glass sculpture as a men's chorus sings the famous question from the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale. Here you can sample "Eva's Mirror" in the version for solo Bassett horn.
For the unhappy dwarf in Franz Schrekers 'The Birthday of the Infanta' the chance encounter with his reflection ends in catastrophe. In the Austrian composer's "Pantomime for Chamber Orchestra" (after Oscar Wilde's short story), the ugly dwarf – who until that point thinks he is a handsome prince – is so shocked by his actual looks that he dies of torment: his dream of seducing the princess is shown to be mere illusion.
Narcissus's reflection also brings fatal consequences. In the Greek legend, the gods condemn him to fall eternally in love with his own image. He sees his reflection in a pool and cannot drag himself away. Matthias Pintscher is just one composer to have been inspired by Narcissus. But in his cello concerto 'Reflections on Narcissus' the mythological figure loses his representational contours when different instrumental groups and their reflections start to interact.
Arvo Pärt also carries reflections into the realm of the abstract. His 'Spiegel im Spiegel' (familiar from the soundtracks of such films as "The East", "Gravity" and "Heaven") sees the violin gravitate across symmetrical axes – like the lines of the letter "X" – towards a central note, before turning away again.
Peter Ruzicka's 'Nachklang – Spiegel für Orchester' sees him experiment with orchestral passages from his opera 'Celan'. As the composer himself explains, "Musical figures and sonic spaces are reflected, disparate developments 'seen together'. During the process of composition I had an experience of echoing, which appears like a persistent 'sound shadow'."