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Piano Sonata #8: "P. Singer" (War Sonata #1) (solo piano)

by Michael Kieran Harvey (2023)

Work Overview

These three "war" sonatas were composed during the escalation of the 2014 war on Ukraine by Russia beginning on 24 February 2022, the largest attack on a European country since World War II. Many composers have written large works as a response to the insanity of war wielded by aggressive maniacs, a formidable example for piano being Wolpe's Battlepiece of 1943-4. Towards the end of completion of these sonatas war in the Middle East again flared. Three entities helped me negotiate this period and the deep feelings of anger, despair and sorrow I felt for the innocent victims: Peter Singer's writings, my friend and collaborator on many projects Dr Arjun von Caemmerer, and my return to the study of philosophy.

Work Details

Year: 2023

Instrumentation: Piano.

Duration: 25 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — High virtuosity required

Contents note: I. Allegro giusto -- II. Onirico -- III. Ritmico.

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc in relation to this work:
Wolpe Battlepiece (1943-4)

In 2021 Australian bioethicist and philosopher Peter Singer was awarded the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for promoting his idea of effective altruism. Singer has campaigned against the Vietnam war, founded the Victorian Greens, and is an atheist and prominent activist for the rights of non- human animals. His last human standing thought experiment offers an alternative ethics for the non-human world. Sonata #8: "P. Singer" is a homage based on the letters of his name expressed as musical notes. His name in retrograde is "regnis", Latin for "kingdoms", which appears at significant moments through the sonata, the reference being to "death's other kingdom" from T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men. In keeping with Singer's concern for nature the prime series to 41 provides a background web for the work which is in three broad sections.

Performances of this work

7 Jul 2024: at The War Sonatas (Eleventh Hour Theatre). Featuring Michael Kieran Harvey.

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