Le Cirque de Calder
Instrumentation: String Quartet
Date: April, 2004
Le Cirque de Calder (Three Ring Circus) is a three movement work, based on Entrance of the Gladiators theme composed in 1897 by the Czech composer Julius Fucík. It is a mutation of sorts, which seeks to capture the spirit of the circus. The music is inspired as a soundtrack to a performance art piece by American Alexander Calder.
Alexander Calder’s fascination with the circus began in his mid-twenties, when he published illustrations in a New York journal of Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, for which he held a year’s pass. It was in Paris in 1927 that he created the miniature circus celebrated in this film – tiny wire performers, ingeniously articulated to walk tightropes, dance, lift weights, and engage in acrobatics in the ring. The Parisian avant-garde would gather in Calder’s studio to see the circus in operation. It was, as critic James Johnson Sweeney noted, `a laboratory in which some of the most original features of his later work were to be developed.’ This film exudes the great personal charm of Calder himself, moving and working the tiny players like a ringmaster, while his wife winds up the gramophone in the background. The Circus is now housed at the Whitney Museum in New York.
Premiere Performance by Quatuor Bozzini, April 18th, 2004, Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, Montreal, Quebec