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A Painting by Magritte : for solo harp

by Ian Whitney (2017)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Alice Giles from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 120.

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Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 120.


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Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 120.

Library shelf no. CD 3141 [Available for loan]

Display all products featuring this work (1 more)  

Work Overview

I have long been a fan of the Belgian surrealist René Magritte, and the way his paintings can take common objects (a pipe, an apple) and turn them into an image of quirky unease. There is something that is often both comical and unsettling in his work.

This piece is a response to one painting in particular, Golconda, currently in Houston's Menil Collection. This well known landscape presents a sky filled with mathematically spaced men in black overcoats and bowler hats against a bland urban backdrop. It's not clear whether the men are falling from the sky, rising from the earth or are suspended in space. This confusion of motion seemed, to me, to be particularly sympathetic to the harp. Apart from perhaps piano, and some percussion, I can think of few instruments where physical motion is so visually connected to the sound as the harp- the sheer expanse of the instrument necessitates it. Throughout the piece, I have considered the direction of travel much like the men in the painting- up, down, paused. I've also sought to capture some of the unease and liminality of Magritte- at times oppressively so.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Harp.

Duration: 10 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Alice Giles

First performance: by Alice Giles at Forgotten (National Portrait Gallery) on 31 Aug 2017


Performances of this work

31 Aug 2017: at Forgotten (National Portrait Gallery). Featuring Alice Giles.

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