blessed unrest

for violin, cello and piano

James Gardner

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for violin, cello and piano

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Composer James Gardner
Year of Composition 2006
Duration 7'30"
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-jg1bu1


blessed unrest was one of six short pieces commissioned by the New Zealand Trio as ‘attention-grabbing’, programme opening pieces. They wanted something that would start a concert ‘with all guns blazing’; a piece that ought to be ‘high-impact, dynamic and edgy’.

It took a long time until I found something that I thought satisfied this demand, as I didn’t want to write an obviously motoric pulse-based piece. I wanted to create a sense of pent-up energy and its release in bursts. Many approaches were tried and rejected and while this was going on I came across the quote that gave the piece its title. I certainly don’t think my dissatisfaction with earlier versions of the piece ‘divine’ and I dislike Martha Graham’s lofty tone, but parts of her statement nevertheless resonated with me:

‘There is vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not yours to determine how good it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is ever pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.’