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Tan Dun

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo (2004)
G Schirmer Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
30 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
12 Cellos
Programme Note
Tan Dun Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo (2004)

I. Out of Venice
II. Bazaar of Souls
III. Secret of Raga
IV. Temple of Heaven

Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo has two meanings. One is on the philosophical level — about humanity. It's a reflection of the phenomenon of historical Silk Road cultures, a search that is still so haunting. From my personal point of view, I see Si Lu (Chinese words for Silk Road) as very open and inspirational — just like a caterpillar spinning its cocoon, no matter how long you pull the silk, the thread never breaks. That invisible thread always exists. To me, Si Lu is an invisible yet unbreakable connection. Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo is a soulful search of cultural harmonies that are organically related, although these individual elements all grow in different forms and directions. This work is about the many secrets that exist between cultures and their relationships.

Secondly, as a composer, I always retreat to my own secret land, that inner creative source that I revisit from time to time, from piece to piece. There are always different technical and spiritual inventions in my secret land.

For this piece, my inspirations come from those sounds made on extremely haunting, plucked instruments such as the sitar and pipa. From the ancient times, philosophers believe that any sound that exists has a life — a starting point, duration of its sounding, and an end. A sound is a life, and life is sound. I transpose and enlarge these inspirations from plucking sounds (plucking living sounds) to orchestral colours and gestures.

—Tan Dun

17 June 2004 (with the title Secret Land)
Berlin Philharmonic
Simon Rattle, conductor
Berlin, Germany

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