top of page

What Does The Harp Suggest? 

oboe, clarinet, horn, percussion, cimbalom, piano, double bass | 2022 | 13' 

World premiere: 18 February 2023 | Budapest Music Center | Budapest | Hungary | Ensemble ARS NOVA | Péter Eötvös Foundation 


‘What does the harp suggest?’, Louise Glück asks towards the end of her poem, ‘Fugue’:

What does the harp suggest?
I know what you want —
you want Orpheus, you want death.
Orpheus who said “Help me find Eurydice.”
Then the music began, the lament of the soul watching the body vanish.

Much of the music I have written mirrors scenes from Orpheus’s life (and brutal death), a subject that is very well served in Western art music. The title, and form, of Glück’s poem also seemed relevant to my piece, replete as it is with simple contrapuntal writing.

Throughout the piece, there is reference to harp- or lyre-like sounds, brought out, above all, by the unusual sound of cimbalom and the inside of the piano.

The piece is cast in one long, continuous movement. During its latter half there is a sequence of variations out of which the music gradually spirals towards its violent conclusion.

© Sebastian Black


Photo: Bálint Hrotkó | Péter Eötvös Foundation

bottom of page