Magnetite

Emily Howard (1979)

Magnetite 2007

2(fl.2 dbl picc).2.2(cl.2 dbl bcl).2(bsn.2 dbl cbsn) / 4.2.3.1 / timp. perc.(2) / 16.14.12.10.8
Duration 
10
Genre 

Magnetite is the oldest‐known magnetic substance and the most magnetic of all naturally occurring minerals found on Earth.  For many years after its discovery, magnetite was surrounded in myth and superstitious beliefs concerning its magical powers.  These included the ability to give a person more energy, heal the sick, and ward off evil spirits.    Magnetite also became known as lodestone or "leading stone" when people realised that it acted as a primitive type of compass if made into the shape of a needle and placed on water.

My composition is inspired by these superstitions as well as by the structure and physical properties of magnetite crystals.   I like to think of Magnetite as a journey deep inside one of these crystals.  
Musical material is shaped by magnetic fields attracting one another or moving in opposite directions.  Melodies take the paths of particles in a giant crystal lattice.  A key idea is that of melody
escaping, and at the opening of the work, melody is hidden inside a chorale.  During the first half, as if passing through a magnetic field, melody is accelerated to reach a certain level of energy and thena climax.  The second half of the work is about the aftermath of this journey and is much more still and reflective.    Finally, behaving like the metaphorical lodestone, Magnetite finds its
emotional centre and inner peace.

Magnetite was commissioned by Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008 for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and first performed by them, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, on 6th December 2007.    It is dedicated to my grandmother, Daphne, and lasts approximately ten minutes.  

Emily Howard 2007

Performances 
6.12.07 Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic / Vasily Petrenko
March 2009 BBC Studios, Manchester: BBC Philharmonic / James MacMillan
6.6.11 Konzerthaus, Dortmund, Germany: Dortmund Philharmonic / Lancelot Führy
8.11.11 Musikverein, Vienna, Austria: Tonkünstler Orchestra / Andrés Orozco-Estrada
2
Flute
2nd doubling piccolo
2
Oboe
2
Clarinet
2nd doubling bass clarinet
2
Bassoon
2nd doubling contrabassoon
4
Horn
2
Trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
2
Percussion
16
Violin
14
Violin II
12
Viola
10
Cello
8
Double bass
(Esc)