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Olber's dance in the dark : String quartet no. 1

by Melody Eötvös (2010)

Work Overview

At night, step outside and, weather permitting, take a look at the brightly lit backbone in the sky. On a clear night your observations made of the night sky can be every bit as profound as Einstein's or Kepler's. The fact that the night sky is dark, and not as bright as the burning star at the centre of our solar system, tells us the most fundamental thing about our universe. This is what Olber's paradox illuminates for us. The catch in Olber's paradox is that it is impossible for the universe to be infinitely large because, if it were, there would not be a dark sky at night, due to every point in our line of sight being taken up by the forever existing light of a star, whether near or far, similar to the way you are not able to catch sight of the landscape which sits just beyond a dense forest of trees stretching out for miles and miles. The most remarkable thing about this paradox is that is reveals so much about the physical universe in such a simple way.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.

Duration: 10 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Written for the Australian String Quartet - National Composers Forum

First performance: by Australian String Quartet — Jul 10. University of Adelaide, as part of the ASQ National Composers Forum 2010

The composer notes the following genres, styles & influences associated with this work:  Programmatic, influenced primarily by Bartok & Shostakovitch.

Winner of the Kuttner String Quartet Composition Prize, Jacobs School of Music Indiana University 2010


Performances of this work

25 Aug 2011: at Fresh Meat (Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon).

Jul 10: University of Adelaide, as part of the ASQ National Composers Forum 2010. Featuring Australian String Quartet.

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