One Says. History Is.
2003 • 28 minutes • solo piano
How long can we continue to accumulate the weight of history? Every year, every day, every moment, even, is an addition to our past. Coming with this weight is an incredible inertia and with this inertia a sense of the inevitability of events. History seems to push on, repeating itself, cycling through set patterns even while accompanied by a sense of progress and growth. A text read by the pianist is adapted from Gertrude Stein's We Came. A History, written in 1930, and characterized by a highly unusual presentation: the final 3/4 of the text is written as short bursts of words joined together by equal signs. ("How do you like what you have heard=History must be distinguished=From mistakes.=History must not be about=What is happening.=History must not be about=dogs and balls in all.=The meaning of those=Words. History must be=" , etc.) The weight of these words expressed this way is countered by a considered acceptance and appreciation of the inevitability of historical events: "History is what it is=which it is as they do." One says. History is. attempts to address the weight and inertia of history, an address coloured for me by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (The events in Iraq in the years following this make Stein's text, which refers to the inertia and inevitability of history, all the more poignant.) In my composition the acceptance of the inevitability of history is not easy - virtuosic, physical playing gives way over the three movements (each much shorter than the previous) to a more resigned, wistful expression. The work was written for Montreal pianist Marc Couroux and premiered at a concert of my music by Ensemble KORE.