• Maja S. K. Ratkje
  • Considering Icarus (version for solo trombone and full orchestra) (2021)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)

Commisioned by Trondheim Symphony Orchestra & Opera

  • 3333/4331/timp.2perc/hp.pf/str
  • trombone
  • 18 min
    • 31st October 2024, Glasgow City Hall, Glasgow, United Kingdom
    View all

Programme Note

Myths and fairy tales have always inspired other art forms, and countless are the works with the fascinating story of poor Icarus. Drawn to the tragedy, for sure, but in my orchestral interpretation of the myth I was looking for a view on the beauty of the attempt, the overwhelming attempt to reach for the impossible. William Butler Yeats wrote in 1931 a famous poem titled To a Friend Whose Work has Come to Nothing. In 1960, the American poet Anne Sexton answered this with her poem To a Friend Whose Work has Come to Triumph, as a part of her first published work, Bedlam and Part Way Back. rather cherishing the beauty of the attempt instead of grieving the failure and fatal outcome of Icarus’ flight. So is the music and the trombone soloist’s role here: courageous, brave and life inspiring. Icarus’ fall is of less importance, this piece is cherishing life and the impossible.

- Maja S.K. Ratkje


To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well.
Larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that he fell back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

(With kind permission of Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company)

More Info