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virtuoso piano solo

Hall of Mirrors     10'10"
virtuoso showpiece for piano solo

General Information

Hall of Mirrors is exhilarating to play and to listen to.

It is a warhorse of virtuoso solo piano music and a tour de force of counterpoint, a theme and contrapuntal variations written as a trio of three independent lines.

The theme is called The Self and the six variations are called Reflections.

The idea behind the piece

In a real hall of mirrors different shaped mirrors distort our reflections. We would have fun, laughing at our reflections but we may also see disturbing images of ourselves that we do not like. The different shapes we see can be explained mathematically but they still seem a mixture of the funny, the mysterious and the strangely revealing. This is the idea behind this piece. It is reflections interpreted as sound.

Detailed description

The Self (the theme)

The Self (a trio) is in three moods simultaneously. This allows huge scope for a lots of characterisation in the way it is played.

• The top part is mercurial, even flippant, revealing hidden shallows in silly tremolandi and similar figures that are much too near the top of the piano to be taken seriously. I think this part of The Self is having fun.

• The bass expresses itself in short lyrical or ponderous phrases. I think this bass part of The Self is emotionally moved.

• The middle voice plods systematically and apparently uninvolved then suddenly bursts into a wild solo riff. I think this part of The Self takes longer to react then is suddenly wowed.

The Self ends with all three lines in one unified mood of three voiced chords.

(The Self is entirely fictional; any resemblance to a real person or persons is unintentional.)

The Reflections (the variations)

The reflections are six very different contrapuntal re-workings of The Self.

More Analysis

For more analysis please click here.

Score Extract and Listen

Click to read and listen to extracts

Extract 1

Extract 2

Extract 3

A page at a glance:

virtuoso piano solo

A whacky inspiration

When I was working on the idea for reflections as sound I remembered with joy and delight Spike Milligan’s sublime joke in which the sound of Big Ben striking the hour was distorted differently in the mirrors of a Hall of Mirrors in an episode of The Goons Show called Napoleon's Piano.

First broadcast on October 11, 1955. Script by Spike Milligan.

...Now we disperse and meet again in the Hall of Mirrors, when the clock strikes twinge. At midnight we strike.

[Big Ben striking at varying speed. (Ten times)]

Shhh... is that you, Seagoon?

No, it was the clock.”

Thanks to www.thegoonshow.net/ for quotations from the script.

Hall of Mirrors is not whacky or so funny, in fact it is largely a serious piece, but reflections as sound was Spike Milligan’s idea long before it was mine.


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