• Stuart Greenbaum
  • Ice Man (1993)
    (for Solo Piano)

  • Wise Music G. Schirmer Australia Pty Ltd (World)
  • Solo Piano
  • 33 min

Programme Note

Ice Man is a programmatic work in three movements. It can be further divided up into nine sections which are based on the plight of James Scott, the Australian student who was trapped in the Himalayan snow for 43 days before being rescued. When I first read about him in a newspaper article it moved me greatly and I felt that I would like to write a piece of music based on his story. After much initial trouble I eventually came to the conclusion that it was impossible for me to write a piece of music which reflected James Scott's feelings. The piece is actually about my feelings; about how I feel about the idea of being in his predicament.

In selecting 9 fragments of text from the newspaper article, I was primarily looking for the philosophical strands: the acceptance of misfortune, the wait in hope, the possibility of death and the change of expectation. I am less interested in the geographical prison, the hunger, the cold and the eventual rescue than in the attitudes which these circumstances inspire in people. In this way the piece is not only about James Scott but about courage in general. James Scott's ordeal just happened to be a particularly memorable instance of human courage.

The 9 fragments represent a psychological journey. I have set them in the order in which they happened but their durations are not in proportion to normal 'calendar' time. They say that when a person is dying their life flashes before their eyes. It seems to me that James Scott went through this process in slow motion. But there were also weeks that passed almost without incident (at least to his memory) and these extremes of 'fast' and 'slow' motion are at the core of my piece. This has not always translated into external speed of a section but in the sense of 'time passing' which they respectively convey.