About "In the Mind's Eye: Images for Horns and Orchestra"
In the Mind's Eye is a Konzertstuck for horns and orchestra
inspired by visual art. Visual artists and composers have often
collaborated or have been influenced by each other's work. A famous
example of this is Stravinsky and Picasso working together on 'Pulcinella'.
Impressionistic music occurred during the same period as impressionistic
art. In a similar vein this piece has been greatly influenced by
visual art, and employs the use of musical efficts that replicate various
brush stroke techniques. Five paintings were used as inspiration for
this three-movement work for horns and orchestra.
Movement I - Random Abstract
The first movement is dedicated to abstract expressionism
artists. The specific painting that I used as inspiration in this
movement is from the contemporary artist Ingrid Calame, who has used some
of the concepts of abstract expressionism in her painting entitled 'From
#258 Drawing: Tracings from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the L.A.
River'. This painting uses tire tracks from the Indianapolis 500 as
This first movement is written from two perspectives. Part of the
music reflects the perspective of the artist, while other moments in the
movement represent the perspective of the viewer. The opening of the
first movement is a good example of brush stroke imitation. The
opening glissando of the harp, followed by the fast scalar passages in the
woodwinds, represent the fast, broad, stroke of a paintbrush on the
canvas. Jackson Pollack was known to actually paint to music and
there was often a rhythm to his brush stroke. Throughout this first
movement the listener will also hear short, chromatic chords that are
meant to represent an abstract artist randomly throwing paint onto the
In this opening movement, the first entrance of the horns is my musical
representation of a patron's first impression upon viewing such an
abstract painting. The music of the horns is meant to portray
curiosity, interest, and questioning. The main second theme is music
representing the painter's perspective. The euphoria of an artist
totally submerged in his or her creativity can be heard as the music grows
in animation and intensity. This music, still in the voice of the
artist, becomes more calm and ethereal as the artist's mind searches for
inspiration. After the artist's inspiration is realized, the music
intensifies with the return of the second theme. This pure adrenalin
increasis to a final climax of frantic brush strokes portrayed in the fast
scalar passages now heard in strings, woodwinds, harp, and
xylophone. The voice of the viewer at the art museum, who is
pondering the final product of the visual artist's work, is heard next in
the solo entrance of the horn.
The first movement ends from the consumer's perspective, relishing the
vivid colors and shapes on the canvas from the abstract artist's mind.
Movement II - Daniel in the Lion's Den
A painting of the above title by Robert E. Weaver inspires this
movement. This biblical subject has been a favorite choice for many
artists over the centuries. For me, Robert Weaver's work is the most
stunning of those I have seen. The music, as well as the painting,
addresses the concept of faith. The movement opens quietly with the
horns in a quasi-Gregorian chant, setting the stage for Daniel's overnight
trial in the den of the lions where his belief in God is tested. The
trials and tribulations associated with man's faith over the millenniums
are reflected in this dialogue between horns and orchestra throughout this
movement in G Minor. At the end of the movement you will hear a
tremolo in the strings, taking us to a moment of Eb Major, which
represents the answer to Daniel's prayers as morning arrives and Daniel
has been spared from the jaws of the lions.
Movement III - Reflections
The third and final movement is meant to deal with artists' fascination
with light's reflection, particularly on water. There are three
paintings chosen as inspiration for this movement. They are 'Roussillon
Landscape' by George-Daniel DeMonfried, 'The Channel of Gravelines' by
George Seurat, and 'The Regatta Beating to Windward', by Joseph M.W.
Turner. Each painting is reflected in different parts of this third
The movement opens with an exciting, heroic horn call from all of the
horns, representing the excitement of a sailing contest as portrayed in
Turner's painting of the Regatta. An orchestra tutti follows this
opening fanfare, where the music is very secco, representing the
pointillist brush technique of Seurat's neo-impressionistic
painting. The excitement of an ocean adventure is continued when the
horns re-enter. The solo entrance of the harp transitions the music
into a more tranquil section that is meant to represent the beauty of
sunlight reflecting off the ocean as seen in DeMonfried's seashore
landscape. Horn calls abound in the next section, depicting the
adventure and pure beauty of water and light in these paintings. As
viewers look at these paintings, their imagination brings their own images
of the ocean and reflected light. These images are heard in the
music. A final return to the opening horn call signals the end of
this movement climaxing in a robust celebration of life as portrayed in
visual and aural art.
Performance Duration Approx. 18 minutes
1. Random Abstract
|2. Daniel in the Lion's Den
||1 Trumpet in C
|1 English Horn in F
|2 Clarinets in Bb
||4 or 5 Solo Horns
|4 or 5 Solo Horns
||1 Tenor Sax
||1 Baritone Sax
||4 Bb Trumpets
||2 Tenor Trombone
|1 English Horn
||1 Bass Trombone
|2 Bb Clarinets
|1 Bb Bass Clarinet
||1 Harp (optional)
|2 Alto Sax
The band version was co-commissioned and premiered by Robert Grechesky
and the Butler University Wind Ensemble in October of 2011. The
composer's daughter, Julie, was one of the horn soloists.
Program notes may be viewed and printed using this link
The Indianapolis Symphony with the ISO's horn section as soloists and
Carlo Rizzi as conductor, premiered this work on May 14 and May 15,
The co-commissioner of the orchestral version is the Wichita Falls
Symphony, who played it for the first time on November 13, 2010.
Additional performances of "In the Mind's Eye" are listed
|Butler University Wind Ensemble
|Kent Leslie Recital (piano version)
|Anderson Horns Recital (piano version)
|Andrea Stanton Recital (piano version)
|Florida Southern College
"In the Mind's Eye: Images for Horns and Orchestra" may be
rented from the
composer by contacting him from the contact
page on this website.
A version for piano and 4 or 5 horns may be purchased from Hal Leonard.
The inventory number is 00842502 and the price is $24.99. Please
note, when you receive this published version, please add a slur to
measure 139, 3rd movement, in the first horn.
A band version is also available for rent from the composer..
A recording of the Indianapolis Symphony's premiere
performance may be heard by linking to Instant Encore's website: http://www.instantencore.com/music/details.aspx?PId=5063993
You may also read
more about the soloists when you visit this link.
A video produced by the Indianapolis Art Museum and the
Indianapolis Symphony gives an explanation of the piece. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4twRcOX1TA
The art used
as inspiration may be found at this website link. All but Robert
Weaver's work are displayed in the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Scott Miley of The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, IN)
interviewed Kent Leslie of the Anderson Symphony. "Every piece
I've heard that Jim has written I have loved. It's [In the Mind's
Eye] contemporary but it's audience friendly at the same time.
There's so much contemporary music that is good but it's hard to listen
to. Whether you're an expert in classical music or not, I think
you're going to be drawn to the melodies and the fact that it is inspired
by these paintings."
An excerpt of a review (translated) by Yngvil Bjellaanes
in the Adresseavisen in Trondheim, Norway. "Beckel's
music is rich, exciting (with a sense of anticipation), and varied.
The three movements are of widely differing character, but I am left with
a feeling of a well-fitting whole."
Jeff Nelsen of Indiana University and formerly with
Canadian Brass says: "In the Mind's
Eye will be a triumph for any horn section that performs it, and a
complete joy for any audience who experiences it. Bravo Jim for
creating another masterpiece for us."
Link to this article
in the October, 2010 issue of Horn Call.