The Domain of Arnheim, Op. 33

Lowell Liebermann

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Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

"The Domain of Arnheim" was commissioned by the 92nd Street Y for the New York Chamber Symphony, and is dedicated to Gerard Schwarz. It is scored for 2 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, piano, harp, celesta, percussion and strings
The title of the work is taken from a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, which describes a wondrous man-man paradise built by a multi-millionaire obsessed with landscape architecture. (?Arnheim? in the title refers to the location, and not the millionaire?s name.) The latter half of the story is purely descriptive of the journey through this domain, where the visitor is pulled along by unseen means in a small vessel upon a constantly winding river, with ever-changing vistas of remarkable and seemingly natural beauty on either side. This river eventually leads to a vast pair of burnished gold doors which magically glide open to reveal a fantastic castle suspended in mid-air.
Three paintings by the Belgian surrealist were also on my mind during the composition of this work: two of them also titled after Poe?s story; and the third, titled ?The Castle of the Pyrenees? but more literally inspired by the story, showing a castle hewn out of a huge granite boulder, suspended above a vast ocean.
Poe?s story, for all its ecstatic effulgence, is marked by a distinct sense of isolation, transience and ultimately, futility ? I suppose the sense of sadness that comes with all intensely beautiful things ? which is also captured in Magritte?s paintings. It is this sense which led me to compose this work. I must add, however, that although the form of my composition was to a certain extent suggested by the form of Poe?s story, this work is not meant as a piece of bona-fide program music (a concept which has always held minimal interest for me.)
On a purely abstract level, "The Domain of Arnheim" takes the form of a short introduction, theme and nine continuous variations. All of the material in the work is derived from harmonic and melodic material inherent in the theme itself.

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the 92nd Street Y
Composition Date 1990
Duration 00:16:00
Orchestration 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 1 0; 2Perc. Pno. Cel. Hp. Str. (Min. 8 7 6 4 2)
Premiere 12th January 1991. New York Chamber Symphony Gerard Schwarz, conductor; Kaufmann Concert hall, 92nd Street Y New York, NY