À Mon Seul Désir

Brian Irvine (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition



For orchestra, solo violin and sampler.
World premiere: National Concert Hall, Dublin, 28 January 2014. RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Darragh Morgan (violin) conducted by Gavin Maloney.

Aims and Context

The work, which takes its name from the sixth tapestry of the 15th century Lady and the Unicorn series, interrogates ideas of possession, attraction, repulsion, domination through composer-developed algorithmic and self-referential procedures which are incorporated into the work’s composition. Rejecting the usual model of large-scale compositional construction based on repetition, development, balance and polarity, the work progresses through a continuous exploration of composer established “caves” characterised by contradicting and unconnected material in which the violin is often ensnared, overwhelmed, halted, saturated or abandoned.

Methodology and Findings

This piece radically redefines the composer’s approach to issues of formal organisation and melodic transformation. Rather than engage with more familiar methodologies of organic or motivic-related development, the work relies on borrowed patterns of musical “states” or “blocks” that rupture and explode whilst at the same time presenting a “third layer” made from fractured commentaries redacted from anonymous talk radio conversations. Ideas of malfunction and breakdown, both in terms of the treatment of the musical material but also in relation to the elaborate labyrinth of implied emotional states, is central to the work. Utilising an initial
three-part composition process involving the sampling of performer led improvisations, composed responses to those improvisations and subsequent transformations of those second tier ideas facilitates a fluid creation process that reimagines traditional composer- performer roles.

Furthermore by borrowing fragments from medieval plainchant, 1970s television marketing campaigns and American post-hardcore band “At The Drive In”, the work sets out to embrace a timeless notion of desire and by incorporating these opposing cultural syntaxes and reimagining the relationship between soloist and (morphing) orchestra far beyond the context of concerto.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNational Concert Hall, Dublin
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Jan 2014


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