• Stuart Greenbaum
  • Mondrian Interiors (2007)
    (for Solo Harp, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and Piano)

  • Wise Music G. Schirmer Australia Pty Ltd (World)
  • Harp
  • 20 min

Programme Note

On September 6 in 1997 I was at the Tate Gallery in London. Coincidentally, this was also the day of the funeral for Diana Spencer, and in deference, they didn’t open until midday. Once inside, however, I was pleased to find a special exhibition of the works of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. It highlighted a fascinating development in his style from Symbolism and Cubism to the so–called Neo–Plasticism that he is most identified with today. On my way out, I bought picture cards of the works I liked most with the intention of setting them to music. They remained in their yellow paper bag for years. A decade later the idea came back to me and the cards (in chronological order) suggested the eight movements that comprise ‘Mondrian Interiors’. I don’t think it is essential to view the artworks in order to appreciate the music, but the comparison provides another level of interest. The eight movements are miniatures of varied length and scored either for the full ensemble, solo harp (which is featured) or other varied subsets that this sextet allows.


1: The Red Tree (1909 - 10) - full ensemble. 2: Tree (c.1913) - a cubist reduction, rendered as a sparse duo for harp and piano. 3: Church at Domburg (c.1914) - solo harp, based on a black and white charcoal sketch. 4: Composition in Oval with Colour Planes (1914) - orchestrated for full sextet to represent the ‘colouring in’ of the previous sketch. 5: Composition Chequerboard, Dark Colours (1919) – piano quintet (no harp). Mondrian described this as a ‘reconstruction of a starry night’. A definite move towards what I see and hear as Minimalism. 6: Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1921) - an early form of his mature style set as a spacious trio for harp, oboe and bassoon. 7: Composition with Yellow Lines (1933) – a brief clarinet and piano duo depicting lines that enigmatically meet only outside the canvas. 8: Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1939-42) - takes the 6th movement to a rhythmically energised conclusion for full ensemble.


The work is dedicated to Marshall McGuire and Southern Cross Soloists, who commissioned the work with assistance from the Music Board of the Australia Council for the Arts.



Greenbaum Mondrian Interiors