Spiegel im Spiegel – Arvo Pärt (for violoncello and piano)

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Spiegel im Spiegel – Arvo Pärt (for violoncello and piano) with sheet music

Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in the Mirror) is a piece of music written by Arvo Pärt in 1978. It is in F major in 6/4 time. The piece was originally written for piano and violin. The violin is also sometimes replaced by a cello or viola.

arvo pärt sheet music

The compositional principle of Spiegel im Spiegel contains two elements corresponding to the tintinnabuli style (from Latin tintinnabulum for bell): scale movements in the violin and triad structures in the piano. Both elements work exclusively with the tones of F major and are arranged around the central tone a’.

The regular and strict construction of the tones, as essentially presented here, can explain the principle of the composition, but not the strong effect that this music unfolds.

The melody part of the violin consists only of long tones that move away from or towards the central tone a’ in four directions. The principle of the violin part looks like the letter X. In the middle, where the lines cross, is the central tone. The four legs of the letter show the different scale movements leading towards and away from it.

The scale movements, which run four times in the same order, regularly become one tone longer. While at the beginning there is only one tone – the g’ leads downwards away from a’ – in the last passage there are eight tones leading downwards from b” to the central tone. Each of the scale movements ends with the central note.

Just as the letter X has two axes of symmetry and can be mirrored vertically and horizontally, the four scale movements are mirrored twice around the central tone. One reflection is between upwards and downwards, the other between towards a’ and away from a’. This strict construction with double reflection explains the title: Mirror in the mirror.

On the one hand, the piano part adapts to the violin part, but on the other hand it provides the principle of the triad as a contrast and as a background to the scale.

The piano begins in the right hand with a sequence of three ascending notes that is faster than the violin part, forming the F major triad. This three-tone structure, reminiscent of classical accompaniment patterns, is maintained throughout the piece. However, the tones change according to a fixed system according to the melody part of the violin. The lowest of the three tones is a third above the melody tone, the middle one is a tone from the F major triad, the upper tone is the melody tone one octave higher. This continuous piano part hovers over the melody part of the violin as an accompaniment.

In addition, individual tones appear in the piano after a melody tone, which are always arranged alternately above and below the violin part. These tones all come from the F major triad and have a fixed distance from the melody tone. They are distributed over a large area of ​​the piano keyboard. The two most extreme additional tones are associated with the central tone, which, when sounded after each of the scale movements, is associated with the lowest tones (F and F’) or the highest tones (c”” and c””’).

The piece is frequently used in cinema and television films, plays and ballets.

Ballet music

The piece was used by Hamburg choreographer John Neumeier for a pas de deux in his ballet Othello (1985) and by New York choreographer Christopher Wheeldon for Part 2 of his ballet After The Rain (2005).

It was used for one scene in the Pilobolus Dance Company’s play Rushes.

The choreographer Jochen Ulich uses it in his ballet Michelangelo at the Landestheater Linz (2011/12)

Cinema and TV films, theatre

The East, Film (2013)
Gravity, Film (2013)
Cheyenne – This Must Be the Place (2011) Film von Paolo Sorrentino
Elegy (2008) Film von Isabel Coixet
BBC-Dokumentarfilm Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution (2005)[1][2]
Dear Frankie Film, (2004)
Dans le noir du temps (2003), Kurzfilm von Jean-Luc Godard
Touching the Void (2003), Dokumentarfilm
Guy Ritchies Film Swept Away (2002)
Gus Van Sants Film Gerry (2002)
Tom Tykwers Film Heaven (2002)
Century of the Self (2002), BBC-Dokumentarfilm von Adam Curtis
HBO-Fernsehfilm Wit (2001)
Mother Night, Film, (1996)
In einer Folge der britischen Fernsehserie Casualty in der Szene des Selbstmords der Protagonistin.
In der New Yorker Produktion von Eurydice, einem Stück von Sarah Ruhl (2007)
Alles eine Frage der Zeit, Film (2013, original „About Time“)
The Good Place, Serie, (2020)
Tatort: Die Nacht gehört dir (2020)

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