Esa-Pekka Salonen: Homunculus (Score)

Books | String Quartet

Publisher: Chester Music
Composer: Esa-Pekka Salonen
Format: Sheet Music | Score
Homunculus is a short (circa 12 minutes) work for string quartet, which the composer wrote during the Autumn months of 2007 for the Johannes Quartet.

He wanted to compose a piece that would be very compact in form and duration, but still contain many different characters and textures. In other words, a little piece that behaves like a big piece.

He has long been fascinated (and amused) by the arcane spermists’ theory, who held the belief that the sperm was in fact a "little man" (homunculus) that was placed inside a woman for growth into a child. This seemed to them to neatly explain many of the mysteries of conception. It was later pointed out that if the sperm was a homunculus, identical in all but size to an adult, then the homunculus may have sperm of its own. This led to a reductio ad absurdum, with an endless chain of homunculi. This was not necessarily considered by spermists a fatal objection however, as it neatly explained how it was that "in Adam" all had sinned: the whole of humanity was already contained in his loins.

He decided to call my piece Homunculus despite the obvious weaknesses of the spermists’ thinking, as he found the idea of a perfect little man strangely moving.

ISBN: 9781847725691
No of pages: 36
Length: 12
Language: English
Catalogue No: CH73491

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