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Who is like God? : a cycle of four works for solo cello

by Katia Tiutiunnik (2006)

Cities of the gods


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Work Overview

Exiled in Babylon, the first piece of the cycle Who is Like God? is intended to give musical expression to my conception of the spiritual, emotional and mental dimensions of the exiled state. "Babylon", the name of the ancient capital of Babylonia, derives from Babilani which, in ancient Babylonian signified "Gateway of the Gods". Hence, it was my intention to musically portray the state of spiritual darkness that can overwhelm the soul when one stands before the gateway to enlightenment, the "Gateway of the Gods". The musical material of Exiled in Babylon is based on the Jewish inspired melodies and rhythms of the first section of my symphonic poem Mikhail: Who is like unto God?

The second work of the cycle, Who is like God?, entitled Embracing Dumuzi, is intended as a musical invocation of the Sumerian god, Dumuzi, the most ancient personification of the eternal cycle of life, death, destruction and renewal. In Sumerian mythology, Dumuzi is portrayed as a beautiful, innocently self-centred youth who dies and rises again, bringing both destruction and renewal with the turn of the seasons. The musical material of Embracing Dumuzi encompasses melodies inspired by the Arab and Jewish traditions, in addition to fragments intended to evoke my conception of ancient Sumerian music.

Temple of the Sun, the third piece of the cycle, draws its poetic impetus primarily from memories of my former life in Rome,while simultaneously giving musical expression to my current physical and spiritual state of being. As the most technically challenging and virtuosic work of Who is like God?, its striving towards grandeur and immortality recalls the Flamininian Obelisk, which stands in the Piazza del Popolo in Rome. This obelisk originally came from Heliopolis, where it stood before the Temple of the Sun.

The final piece of Who is like God? White Night, was directly inspired by various transcendent states of ecstasy I experienced during the many "White Nights"(Beliye Nochi) spent on the rivers and canals of Saint-Petersburg, Russia, in June 2006. It was while surrendering to one these mystical states-brought on, largely, by the sublime beauty of the city enshrined, like a precious jewel, in the white, summer night-that the melody of White Night came to me.

Work Details

Year: 2006

Instrumentation: Cello.

Duration: 18 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: i. Exiled in Babylon -- ii. Embracing Dumuzi --iii. Temple of the Sun -- iv. White Night.

Commission note: Commissioned by David Pereira with funds provided by ArtsACT.

This cycle comprises four related pieces, each of which is a complete work in itself and can be performed independently or with one or more works in the cycle.

The composer notes the following subjects, styles, influences etc, associated with this work:
Ancient Near Eastern history and mythology, Arab music, Ashkenazi Jewish music


Performances of this work

29 Nov 2012: at Malaysian Composers' Series # 2: cello recital by Lachlan Dent (Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLpac)). Featuring Lachlan Dent.

16 May 2010: at Pure Poetry Recital (Castlemaine Art Gallery). Featuring Lachlan Dent.

18 Apr 2010: at Music and Poetry Readings at Ballarat Fine Art Gallery (Ballarat Fine Art Gallery). Featuring Lachlan Dent.

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