Some inspiration for Morning after the Deluge, a 13-minute piece for violin, piano and string quartet, comes from William Turner’s similarly-named painting from 1843, Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) – the Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis. The painting depicts dawn emerging from the ruin of the great flood when God’s covenant with man was established. As a composer, I find it fascinating, as it is both visually expressive and suggestive of musical ideas. The shifting landscape dissolving into layers of mist against a rising sun inspired me to design the same for the music, which begins with a single melody shifted through different modes and slowly dissolves into a growing counterpoint of 2-part, 3-part, then 4-part, and so on; and when all 6 members of ensemble finally come together, we begin “seeing” the first light of the dawn. A new, lively motif emerges. Bright and colorful, the music bears influence from Chinese folk dances. The opening theme also formed the last part of the piece, which is reflective of a sunset. Here, the ensemble slowly fades, one instrument at a time, into the silence of the darkness.
Another source of influence comes from Ernest Chausson’s Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet (1889), which often blurs the line between an imbalanced sextet containing three violins, and a violin concertino. The two pieces are often paired together in concert.
“Morning after the Deluge” won ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards in 2004.
“Equally captivating is Chinese-born Zhou Tian’s Morning After the Deluge (2014), a powerful response to William Turner’s Romantic, proto-Impressionistic painting Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory) – The Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis. Zhou Tian acknowledges inspiration from Chinese folk dance, but the warm, melodic score—never saccharine—is often reminiscent of mid-20th-century American populist music, as well. Delightful.”
— Ronald E. Grames (Fanfare)
Other scorings available for this work:
clarinet, piano and string quartet