Invisible Lilacs

  • September 9, 1991
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Commissioned: Young Uck Kim

Premiere: April 22, 1994; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Young Uck Kim, violin; Emmanuel Ax, piano

Duration: 20’


Tobias Picker: Invisible Lilacs from Odd Beast on Vimeo.



I wrote Invisible Lilacs in 1991 for Young Uck Kim (who commissioned it) and Emanuel Ax. They premiered it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few years later.


Since that time, Bobby Macduffie has taken up the piece. He plays it dazzlingly.


Just before I began composing Invisible Lilacs, I had read Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. A sentence from it captured my imagination and I wanted to respond to it in this piece.


"When, on a summer evening, the melodious sky growls like a tawny lion, and everyone is complaining of the storm, it is the memory of the Méséglise way that makes me stand alone in ecstasy, inhaling, through the noise of the falling rain, the lingering scent of invisible lilacs."


It's hard to put anything into one's own words after reading such a sentence...



The New York Times - Bernard Holland

"...The other music was Tobias Picker's Invisible Lilacs. Its three movements speak a language relatively free of tonal references. The first is fluid, shifting from one expressive, melodic phrase to the next but allowing also sudden, emphatic interruptions. Mr. Picker's style bypasses recent trends and seeks its roots in the central Europe of two generations back. One hears something of Berg's troubled lyricism, maybe Schoenberg's as well."


"The central 'Elegy' continues Mr. Picker's tendency toward quietly relentless forward movement. Pulse is maintained mainly in the steady note values of the piano part; the conclusion, however, draws back, quiet and immobile to the point of silence. The finale is for the most part a rollicking burlesque. One has the feeling of a perpetuum mobile intermittently thrown off course by subtle changes of meter and phrase length."



For violin and piano