Morton Feldman: Coptic Light

Morton Feldman Coptic Light
Coptic Light

Morton Feldman: Coptic Light

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for orchestra
Morton Feldman
4 4 4 4 - 4 4 4 1 - timp, perc(4), hp(2), pno(2), str(18 16 12 12 10)
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute
4th flute
1st oboe
2nd oboe
3rd oboe
4th oboe
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
3rd clarinet in Bb
4th clarinet in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
3rd bassoon
4th bassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in Bb
2nd trumpet in Bb
3rd trumpet in Bb
4th trumpet in Bb
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
4th trombone
1st percussion (vibraphone, marimba)
2nd percussion (vibraphone, marimba)
3rd percussion (vibraphone, marimba)
4th percussion (vibraphone, marimba)
1st harp
2nd harp
1st piano
2nd piano
violin I (18)
violin II (16)
viola (12)
violoncello (12)
contrabass (10)
Table of contents:
Coptic Light for orchestra (1986)
commissioned by the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York
for Bill Colleran
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Coptic Light

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

Having an avid interest in all varieties of arcane weaving of the Middle East I recently viewed the stunning examples of early Coptic textiles on permanent display at the Louvre. What struck me about these fragments of coloured cloth was how they conveyed an essential atmosphere of their civilisation. Transferring this thought to another realm, I asked myself what aspects of the music since Monteverdi might determine its atmosphere, if heard 2000 years from now. For me the analogy would be one of the instrumental imagery of Western music. These were some of the metaphors that occupied my thoughts while composing Coptic Light. An important technical aspect of the composition was prompted by Sibelius’ observation that the orchestra differed mainly from the piano in that it has no pedal. With this in mind, I set to work to create an orchestral pedal, continually varying in nuance. This “chiaroscuro” is both the compositional and the instrumental focus of Coptic Light.

Morton Feldman


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Next performances

03 Nov

Coptic Light

Philharmonie, Essen (DE)

29 Nov

Coptic Light

Grand Auditorium, Luxembourg

World première

New York (US)
New York Philharmonic
Gunther Schuller

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