A triple homage to Jacob Druckman, Johann Sebastian Bach, and James Preiss, Reflexions is a substantial work for solo marimba comprised of 12 short studies.


When James Preiss commissioned me to compose a substantial work for solo marimba, he framed the assignment as creating a work that could go alongside the Bach suites on a recital program. Clearly this called for some serious thought, so I asked him for models to study. He referred me to Jacob Druckman’s Reflections on the Nature of Water with something like awe, and as soon as I heard the piece I could see why. I set out to compose something informed by Druckman’s sensitive use of the marimba’s rich palette of sound. But it was only much later that a colleague pointed out to me that I had actually titled my piece like an homage. I’m very happy to tip my hat toward the earlier work, but I arrived at my title differently. Reflexions comprises twelve short studies, played without pause, that recur as mirror images – that is, the first is mirrored in the twelfth, the second in mirrored in the eleventh, and so on. What is meant by mirroring is different with each pair – in some cases that latter version actually continues right where the earlier one left off, while in other cases there is some form of inversion. The seventh alters the sixth in timbre (fingertips replacing mallets) and in transposition. As each study reacts to its neighbors and to its double, the idea of a physical reflex crept into my title. Like one of Bach’s books of keyboard preludes and fugues, these twelve studies touch twelve keys. So the work emerges as a triple homage – to Jacob Druckman, to Johann Sebastian Bach, and to James Preiss, whose playing has inspired me on many occasions.

-Theodore Wiprud

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