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Composed: 2009

Orchestration: percussion (crotali, vibraphone, chimes, triangle, suspended cymbal, sizzle cymbal, piatti, tam-tam, bass drum) and strings

First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: March 18, 2022

About this Piece

The first impulse to write this work came from my spontaneous reaction to Paavo Järvis’ first-class interpretations of my work, which I had heard on one of his CDs. I called him immediately to tell him of my enthusiasm, and thus discovered he was about to take on a new role as head conductor at the Orchestre de Paris. I was filled with the irresistible urge to write something for this occasion, for his “new orchestra.” In the course of the telephone call, it emerged that Paavo Järvi agreed. I immediately thought of Gustave Eiffel and his work, of a homage to a great architect. I was very happy to hear that the orchestra reacted positively to my idea. 

   A splendid book of illustrations of the plans and blueprints for the tower lay on my desk, captivating me. I was impressed and inspired in many different ways by Eiffel’s artistic vision, by his combination of sober rationality and elegance. From the perspective of a composer, Eiffel’s tower has many features which compare to the structure of a piece of music—the connections between the structural elements, the transparency of the construction, and much more. Even stasis, such an important aspect of architecture, is also a key element of a piece of music. 

   As regards my work Silhouette, the piece came out short and light, like a dance, a waltz, something dizzying—perhaps like the winds which caress this pointed colossus. —Arvo Pärt