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STRING QUARTET #1 "ARS MATHEMATICA" MATHEMATICA" CARL SCHIMMEL I. II. III. IV.

DEMPSEY AND FIRPO FLAGELLAZIONE DI CRISTO MELENCOLIA I LE CIRQUE

Each of the four movements of this quartet is based on a famous work of art which uses mathematics or pseudo-mathematics in its construction. George Bellows is probably most famous for his series of boxing paintings, of which Dempsey and Firpo is one of his last. It depicts the 1923 fight between Jack Dempsey (the “Manassa Mauler”) and the Argentinian Luis Firpo (the “Wild Bull of the Pampas”), a battle which has often been called the most brutal and exciting boxing championship match ever. Within four minutes, there were 11 knockdowns; Bellows’ work captures the most thrilling moment of the match, when Firpo sent the champion Dempsey through the ropes and onto the press table at the end of the first round. Bellows’ style toward the end of his career embraced the principles of “Dynamic Symmetry,” an aesthetic stance which favored precisely arranged geometrical forms according to naturally occurring ratios. Dempsey and Firpo features a “root five rectangle,” which can be drawn in a series of steps using only a compass and straightedge. I used this process in selecting a group of chords and rhythms from which the movement is constructed. The five main sections of the piece are also in a corresponding ratio; the two “B” sections depict the fight itself (which was over in less than two rounds) while the “A” material portrays the excitement of the crowd. Flagellazione di Cristo is the title of a painting by Piero della Francesca, one of the most important early contributors to the art of perspective geometry. The left part of the painting, a “praetorium” in which Christ is suffering at the hands of Roman soldiers, is carefully arranged in a series of nested squares which share a diagonal and which are all related by the same proportion (the square root of two). The tile floor, featuring an octagonal design, is remarkable for its realism. The music of this movement draws from several different ideas: a “flagellation” motive of fast pairs of notes, an eerie alternating theme, and a linear, insistent theme which resembles plainchant. The proportions and chords are derived from “nested” intervals or sections, related by the square root of two, while overall there are eight major sections (drawing from the octagonal design in the praetorium). The cello is silent for the first section of the movement – its entrance indicates the introduction of the plainchant idea and the listener’s passage into the praetorium where Christ stands.

Profile for Carl Schimmel, composer

String Quartet #1 ("Ars Mathematica"), by Carl Schimmel  

(visit http://www.carlschimmel.com to purchase score and parts) I. DEMPSEY AND FIRPO II. FLAGELLAZIONE DI CRISTO III. MELENCOLIA I IV. LE C...

String Quartet #1 ("Ars Mathematica"), by Carl Schimmel  

(visit http://www.carlschimmel.com to purchase score and parts) I. DEMPSEY AND FIRPO II. FLAGELLAZIONE DI CRISTO III. MELENCOLIA I IV. LE C...

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