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Composed: 2016

About this Piece

Goethe/Schubert’s Gretchen
at the spinning wheel
(“Meine Ruh’ ist hin / Mein Herz ist schwer”)
but also
the wheel of karma
turning of cause and effect

compulsive loops of thought and action
repetitive behavior and cycles of history

A manic, hounded piece, alternating relentless
motoric circuits with plateaus of regular,
“idling” motion.


gretchen am spinnrade was written for and is dedicated to cellist Mariel Roberts. It is the sixth in a series of duo works for piano paired with another instrument, originally written for myself to play with some of my closest collaborators. I’m excited to play it here tonight with another extraordinary artist, Jay Campbell.

gretchen was written primarily during a residency at the MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH) in the fall of 2016, a period colored and eventually consumed by events surrounding the 2016 presidential election. The extremity of its expression derives at least in part from an attempt to process, metabolize, and transform some of the toxic, chaotic atmosphere of that moment.

— Eric Wubbels