Spirals, Perhaps in Circles

for solo horn and ensemble

Emma-Ruth Richards

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for solo horn and ensemble

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Composer Emma-Ruth Richards
Year of Composition 2017
Duration ca.9'
Forces solo hn, cl, bsn, strings (
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-err1s1


As I started writing this piece I was drawn to Hermann Hesse’s book Siddhartha where he deliberates on whether a spiritual journey is a never-ending circle or a spiral.

…Siddhartha began to speak and said: “Well, Govinda, are we on the right road? Are we gaining knowledge? Are we approaching salvation? Or are we perhaps going in circles—we who thought to escape from the cycle?” Govinda said: “We have learned much, Siddhartha. There still remains much to learn. We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.” Hesse, Hermann, 1951, ‘Siddhartha’, p.14 I was keen to create a work with different music currents and undercurrents which created its own kind of time that suspended linear temporality. The music, directed from the solo horn line, moves in spirals and circles rather than straight lines and sweep curvilinear shapes, creating a vocabulary of grand gestures and arrival points that never quite land perfectly. The idea of the circle is furthered symbolised by the return of the opening material at the end of the piece. Within the often-conflicting currents and spirals there are also moments of clarity. Coherence in writing is of utmost importance to me and is perhaps my response to the textural and architectural streamlining in Stravinsky’s writing (in particular Symphonies of Wind Instruments). I am drawn to how Stravinsky chooses to isolate the limited number of themes / motives with an almost thematic use of silence where all nonessential details are trimmed away resulting in beautiful clarity.