DONGRYUL LEE


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Over the Towers and Hours (In memoriam Sir Harrison Birtwistle) 
for Orchestra (2021-23)

Timestory, Book II

오케스트라를 위한, “시간과 탑들 너머로 (해리슨 버트휘슬경을 기억하며)”
시간이야기, 제 2권




Over the Towers and Hours
(In memoriam Sir Harrison Birtwistle)
[Timestory, Book II]
  1.  Left wing: Strange Fields and Hills and Face-Machines
       Right wing: The Philemon and Tower-Machines
  2. Winged forms flying against the fading air over the

오케스트라를 위한, “시간과 탑들 너머로 (해리슨 버트휘슬 경을 기억하며)"
시간이야기, 제 2권
  1.  좌현: 이상한 장과 언덕과 얼굴 기계들
      우현: 현자와 탑 기계들
  2. 희박한 대기 너머로 날개 형태가 날아오르면


Duration of the two movements: ca. 23 minutes


A MIDI-piano realization excerpt from the second half of the first movement, Right wing: The Philemon and Tower-Machines


Program notes
        It took almost four months for me write the first page of this piece. However, as abandoned sketches and discarded scores piled up one by one, it became a form of dream journal which recorded my imagination. During this time, I tried to build a tower of lights (or three towers of different colors, which I named red, purple, and yellow), with infinite time-wave trains expressed by string glissandi and La Mer-like string figures, freely flying birds of woodwinds, a gigantic cosmic machine which represents the perpetual cyclical movements of the celestial sphere. In my reveries, these visual or aural images were synthesized with the images that I found from Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which I loved because of its infinitely positive and vibrant tones expression, to me a much more personal and honest version of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.
        Later many of these images were analyzed and rebuilt with small chronons of time, which became the horological timepieces-gears, springs, and jacquemarts (bell-strikers/automatons) for me to build this modular architecture. The first movement mostly follows the aforementioned imaginary narrative, built with multiple blocks/episodes of musical sceneries, beginning from the introduction of timepieces, followed by the exposition of time-sea (emerging from the C overtone series symmetrically disposed with the high B undertone series), after which mountainous face-machines are built/introduced one by one. After passing the shimmering hills which are made with the time-sea material, a new time tower is introduced, and then it is transformed into a variety of different tower-forms, sometimes surrounded by a fierce flock of flying forms (could be either firebirds, or an oriental dragon/phoenix.) In the second movement, the birds get “enlightenment,” and are freed from the shackles of the central tempi–conductor, which I dreamed from my earlier years but could not realize (the emancipation of time, which I am still trying to accomplish.) Later in the movement, they soar to embark on a great journey toward eternity or transcendence. The movement titles are from Joyce’s book, combined with some other words from Deleuze and Jung.

        Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s music has been the guiding star of my musical journey. While writing this piece, I studied his Second Piano Concerto (Responses: Sweet Disorder and the Carefully Careless) and Harrison’s Clock, and read books about and by him, including Wild Tracks (which is a record of interviews with Maddocks during the time that Birtwistle was writing this piano concerto), Harrison Birtwistle Studies, and Harrison Britwistle’s Operas and Music Theatre by Beard. His online interviews and conversations gave me insights especially on constructing musical forms, which has been my foremost tasks and considerations over the past five years. For example, his idea of ever-presenting expositions with an emphasis on detail and context, which eventually creates the formal arc, guided me to conclude one of my solutions on musical forms.
        While writing this piece and right after finishing reading his interview book, the news of his death reached me. I immediately decided to dedicate Over the Towers and Hours to the memory of this great composer, who was truly a towering figure of the music of the twentieth century, and whose music always explored capturing and expressing the essence of time in innovative and ingenious ways.



Over the Towers and Hours, original handwritten score

AI-generated concept-art images