Commissioned by the Michelson-Morely Centennial Celebration
A portrait in music of the scientists Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley and their studies of the velocity of light through their memorable experiments concluded at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, 1887.
"In a way, these experiments formed in my mind an almost 'before and after' sequence. The 'before' represented something like 19th century physics. The 'after' marks the onset of modern scientific research. Perhaps this may appear somewhat simplified from a scientific point of view, but for a musician it provided a dramatic contrast.
"The music begins with a slow, romantic introduction and leads abruptly to the main body of the work - a rapid, energetic movement which forms the balance of the music. The opening bars are heard again just before the final moments and the music ends quietly.
"I have described this one-movement work as a portrait. In the past I have written portrait operas - Einstein, Gandhi, Akhenaten are the subjects of the first trilogy. In this case, this is a portrait not only of the two men for whom the experiments are named but also that historical moment heralding the beginning of the modern scientific period."
© Philip Glass