Fulgura frango : for two pianos
by Charles Bodman Rae (1987)
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Library shelf no. 785.6212/BOD 1 [Available for loan]
Fulgura Frango, composed in 1987, is the second of my pieces exploring the harmonies and rhythms of European bells; the first was Jede Irdische Venus for solo piano, which I premièred in Warsaw in 1982. The Latin title is borrowed from the traditional Latin 'virtutes' inscribed on European church bells since the Middle Ages in order to endow them with particular characteristics, functions, and duties. Most famously, it appears as one of the three virtutes on the great bell of Schaffhausen Munster. This bell, which now lies silent in a special memorial garden outside the cathedral, was immortalised by the German poet, Friedrich von Schiller in his stirring Das Lied von der Glocke (The Song of the Bell). At the head of the poem, as a sub-title, Schiller reproduces all three of the virtutes inscribed on this particular bell: Vivos Voco (I call the living); Mortuos Plango (I wail for the dead); Fulgura Frango (I break the thunder). The harmonies and rhythms of this piece for two pianos are derived from collections of bells in the following German cities: the Cathedral (Dom) in Frankfurt-am-Main; the very large and low-pitched Maria Gloriosa bell in Erfurt; the Cathedral in Würzburg; and the Munster in Freiburg-im-Breisgau.
Instrumentation: 2 pianos.
Duration: 5 min.
Performances of this work
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