Duration: 11 minutes

  • Trumpet, piano
  • 1. The power of dreams  |  2. Kircher’s Ear
  • Brass Wind Publications
  • Score cat no AR C10
  • Commissioned by The Fibonacci Sequence
  • First performance 28 September, 2002  |  Paul Archibald, Kathron Sturrock  |  Minterne, Summer Music Society of Dorset
  • On the ATCL Recital syllabus of TrinityGuildhall Examinations This work is also scored for the same combination as La Revue de Cuisine
  • See also: chamber music

Both movements reach for historical connections between different uses, in the 16th Century, of the trumpet as a conveyor of information. Inspiration for the opening movement has been drawn from Rose Tremain’s novel, Music and Silence, where she describes how the Duchess of Mecklenburg hired a night trumpeter to stand guard over her sleeping grandson, the future King of Denmark, Christian IV. If the baby awoke the trumpeter was instructed to sound the alarm (probably waking the entire royal household as he did so). The Duchess feared the “power of dreams” so the trumpeter was also commanded to play a lively melody “to chase away the child’s terrors”.

The introduction sets the nocturnal pace, followed by a gentle rocking motion in the accompaniment with sustained trumpet line. Darker textures follow, leading to an alerting call. The middle section gives way to a distant bright trumpet tune to lift the babys spirits. The nightmare dispatched, the household now returns to its somnolent state.

The German architect, Kirchner, a contemporary of Christian IV, designed an early “bugging” device which was shaped like a huge trumpet, structured on the Fibonacci sequence. This trumpet “ear” was secreted between walls where Court conversation could be monitored in seclusion. In my imaginings this aural instrument might have produced diverse results, from sweeping reverberation to a perpetuum mobile of discourse. The trumpet opens the movement with the bell directed into the piano, to exaggerate the resonance of the harmonics. After this, all manner of musical exchanges follow.