Beauty Broken

Grade 5

Duration: Approx. 9-10 minutes

Available for purchase through Murphy Music Press:


Program Notes:

I visited the Columbus Museum of Art in the winter of 2014 and met a work titled “Blow Up #1” by Ori Gersht. This work captured my attention and insisted I give it a great amount of thought. Gersht used high-speed photography to capture a moment in time of an arrangement of flowers exploding. In that one short moment Gersht captured a profound truth about this world and the human condition.

At first sight the photo looked amazing. It was beautiful and exciting. Yet when I looked closely, I realized it was beauty that was broken. The photo was a visual display of the tension that exists between beauty and violence, or life and death. When I first saw the work, I was attracted to the beauty. Then I saw the violence and wanted to turn away. However, once I accepted both and was able to hold the paradox of these two realities, I was able to see the photograph for what it truly was. A sense of hope emerged as I felt a longing for beauty to be restored.

"Beauty Broken" begins with a chorale in the brass. This chorale leads into a celebratory section that ends in a state of brokenness. Alternating slow and fast sections follow this moment of breaking. These sections incorporate what I call the "Broken Theme". This theme is intense at times, while it is somber with a sense of longing at other moments. The chorale melody also appears at various times throughout the piece, often in subtle ways. This chorale becomes most apparent at the end as the woodwinds play celebratory flourishes over the brass chorale. Finally, the broken theme returns for one final statement.

Blow Up #1, Ori Gersht

Blow Up #1, Ori Gersht

Other Performance Recordings:

I have an optional glass breaking sound notated in the score. The inspiration behind that moment comes from the actual breaking process seen/heard in this video: (CAUTION: turn the volume down as the sound is quite loud).  


You may download this link and use it for the glass break sound at m. 26: