• Poul Ruders
  • Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean (2004)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • String Quartet
  • accordion
  • 30 min

Programme Note

The title of this piece is taken from the late astronomer and educator Carl Sagan’s book Cosmos (1980). Sagan was a great voice in the pursuit of knowledge and reason, an invaluable force in the struggle against ignorance and superstition. His vast historical knowledge and sensitive ear for the poetic also allowed him to adorn his various texts with short quotations from original folklore through history, quotations which I have used as mental and spiritual appetizers, heading some of the movements in this piece.

Serenade also reaches out to other inspirational sources, such as William Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad and British science-writer John Gribbin, another great educator and popularizer.

The Darwin quotation heading the second movement was also found in Sagan´s book Cosmos (it is originally from Charles Darwin: On the Origin of Species) and so was the quotation about "The Backbone of the Night".

The Ku-Fu-quotation can be found in Sagan´s last great work The Demon-Haunted World (1995).


I.
Introductinon: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean
"...we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability.."
T.H. Huxley, 1887

II.
One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue
"...probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some primordial form into which life was first breathed..."
Charles Darwin: On the Origin of Speciecs, 1859

III.
Floating on the Wind
"The moon leaps in the Great River’s current ... floating on the wind, what do I resemble?"
Du Fu: Travelling at Night, 765 (Tang Dynasty, China)

IV.
The Backbone of the Night
Kung Bushmen, Kalahari Desert - their name for the Milky Way

V.
Stardust
"we are, as I like to say, starstuff .."
Carl Sagan: The Demon-Haunted World, 1995 (Chapter 1: The Most Precious Thing)

VI.
Threnos
"Beauty, truth and rarity, Grace in all simplicity, Here enclosed in cinders lie"
William Shakespeare: The Phoenix and the Turtle, 1601

VII.
Dream Catcher
"A Dream Catcher traps bad dreams and let the good dreams filter down to the sleeper"
Native American lore

VIII.
Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness, 1902

IX.
Finale: Blinded by the Light
John Gribbin: Blinded by the Light: The Secret Life of the Sun, 1991

- Poul Ruders

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