Die Fackel

for six players

Phillip Neil Martin

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for six players

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Composer Phillip Neil Martin

Year of Composition


, , , , ,


ca. 10'

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-pnm1df1


The piece is based upon Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump’ hung in the National Gallery London and named after Karl Kraus’s journal ‘Die Fackel’ (The Torch). It examines Wright’s fascination with light and shade drawing a parallel between this and Kraus’s use of juxtaposition to affect people’s perception of reality. Like the painting, my music reflects man’s ambivalent views on scientific progress, and progression in general from differing perspectives.

I approached the piece by examining three distinct facets of the painting, corresponding to the three movements of the work, which plays without a break. 1st movement: inside the head of the man on the right of the picture looking into the light, 2nd Movement: inside the pump’s glass bowl with the cockatoo. 3rd movement: through the large glass jar on the table that illuminates the painting by the light of the candle faintly seen behind the ‘carious human skull’. Some of the musical material is freely shared between the three movements, but warped in each movement by these disparate perspectives.