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Spiegel im Spiegel

Soul Music, Series 12 Episode 3 of 5

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 30 August 2011

Exploring the impact that Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's piece for piano and violin Spiegel im Spiegel has had on people's lives.

Written in 1978, just prior to his departure from Estonia, Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel is musically minimal, yet produces a serene tranquillity.

It's in F major in 6/4 time, with the piano playing rising crotchet triads and the violin playing slow scales, alternately rising and falling, of increasing length, which all end on the note A. The score of the piece looks deceptively simple, but as violinist, Tasmin Little explains, it's one of the most difficult pieces to perform because the playing has to simply be perfect, or the mood is lost.

"Spiegel im Spiegel" in German literally can mean both "mirror in the mirror" as well as "mirrors in the mirror", referring to the infinity of images produced by parallel plane mirrors.

The programme contains an interview with visual artist Mary Husted who heard this work and was inspired to produce a set of collages called "Spiegel im Spiegel" which in a round about way, led to her long lost son tracing her for the first time in his life.

  • Artist Mary Husted

    Artist Mary Husted has 3 pieces from her Spiegel im Spiegel Series going on show in an exhibition called Echoes and Traces, at Art For Life, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, TA1 5DA, from 17 September to 20 November. This is an exhibition exploring themes of memory with works by several artists.

    Also opening on 17th September is the Turner Contemporary exhibition, Nothing in the World but Youth. This features some of the original tiny 1963 drawings that Mary made of her infant son.

  • Tasmin Little Recording

    The Tasmin Little recording of Spiegel im Spiegel mentioned in the programmme is on the EMI Eminence Label 1994. It is a collection of work by Arvo Pärt. The recording features Tasmin Little on violin, Martin Roscoe on piano with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta.

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    Soul Music

    The stories behind pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.

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