Drunk With Fire
For solo piano.
Written for “the Bagatelle Project” – a concept created by the International Beethoven Project for their 2011 Beethoven Festival, where each of more than 20 bagatelles would be based on Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy” tune – “Drunk with Fire” was inspired not only by the ubiquitous melody, but also by the (an) adaptation of Schiller’s text.
Three phrases caught my attention almost immediately:
“drunk with fire”… (your) “magic reunites”… (whoever) “must creep tearfully away from this band!”
The first two bars consist of a flurry of arpeggiated notes, which represent the symphonies Beethoven
had to create before getting to his masterful 9th (each arpeggio harmonizes the key of each of the first 8 symphonies). Thereafter, the music is “drunk with fire” (not in an alcohol-related sense, but rather in the metaphysical state of energy and euphoria).
Though not necessarily to be recognized in the forefront, accented notes spell out the tune in the midst of the activity, intermittently interrupted by “magical” arpeggios which (re)-“unite” the sections of the 2-minute work.
I was really most taken with the very evocative final phrase: whoever “must creep tearfully away from this band”. Since Beethoven himself set a variation of the “Ode to Joy” tune in the form of a Turkish march, I took the opportunity to both use a Turkish scale (m. 49) and borrow snippets of his setting (RH 77-87). Also borrowed (m. 69) from Maestro Beethoven is a reference to a very famous moment in the finale of the symphony (one of my favorites), where he makes a stunning and instant leap from A to F Major.
Lastly, I knew I wanted to end the piece quietly, not only as a reference to “creeping away”, but as a symbolic reference to his gradual loss of hearing, before fnally ending the piece in the key of the 9th symphony, D minor.