Glass Mountain

for accordion, bass clarinet and string trio

Michael Zev Gordon

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for accordion, bass clarinet and string trio

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Composer Michael Zev Gordon
Year of Composition 2012
Duration ca.8'
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-mzg1gm1


I had talked to the accordionist Ian Watson about specially writing him a piece for quite some time. And I was delighted this commission gave me the chance to do it.

The accordion is a wonderfully versatile instrument and is part of so many vernacular kinds of music across the globe. In the case of my piece, the accordion and the ensemble evoke something of the world of klezmer, Jewish folk music originally from Eastern Europe. In more recent times, klezmer has seen a strong resurgence in the US
and UK and elsewhere; but for me the poignancy of the music is, at least in part, because it is evocative of a lost, pre-war time.

In my piece, you only briefly hear ‘real’ klezmer. Instead I wanted to make a piece where you catch, as it were, shadows of that music – to create something all the more poignant because it is slightly out of reach. This also has to do with a recurrent theme in my music: the workings of memory. The title of my piece comes from a line from Austerlitz by the German writer W.G. Sebald, one of the great writers about memory: “When memories come back to you, you sometimes feel as if you were looking at the past through a glass mountain…”.

Glass Mountain was commissioned by CHROMA for their 15th birthday concert. The first performance was given at King’s Place, London on 20th Febary 2012.