Nineteen Images of the Divine, book 4

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Nineteen Images of the Divine is an extended suite for piano solo in 19 movements, lasting just under one hour.

The movements are titled after the names of each month of the Badì’ Calendar, as used by Bahá’ís around the world. There are 19 months containing 19 days and the month Names are considered to be attributes of the Creator God. Each movement meditates on their possible meaning, insofar as humans can appreciate such meanings.

The 19 months have been further subdivided into four groups, which are three, four, six and six months long respectively. The music is therefore divided into four books, as described below. The ultimate link between the Names and the music can only be made by the listener.

Book 4: All that comes forth from the preceding three books is hidden in this book, where the fruit is harvested.

Speech: This Divine Speech is from the Educators of God’s message, appointed by the Creator God. As this is related to movement no. 7, ‘Words’, the theme is taken from that movement. This movement is marked Con Moto (with motion) and the theme, presented in treble and bass, surrounds fast-moving figuration, suggesting that the Speech is ‘all-encompassing’.

 Questions: Not so much an attribute, this Name reflects the principle of independent investigation of the truth, relating to spirituality. We can ask questions to gain better understanding of the Word of God. The music is marked ‘calm and simply’ and consists of slowly rising phrases which appear to be questioning. Perhaps the answers are contained in the harmonies that these phrases form.

 Honour: The word implies ‘to be raised up’. We are taught to be honourable by recognising the Creator God and to affirm His Unity. The music, marked ‘Majestic’, consists of repeated chords based on harmonies stated in the 2nd movement, ‘Glory’. There follows a faster-moving variant of the theme also first presented in the 2nd movement. The initial harmonies follow and are made to sound evermore grand.

 Sovereignty: This is ‘supreme power, or authority’. God is sovereign because He has the exclusive right to introduce new and abrogate old laws. The music is marked Con Moto and is built from repeating minimalistic figures that build-up in power.

 Dominion: This is another aspect of sovereignty, as possessed by God. As it is said: ‘Powerful am I in My dominion. Nothing whatsoever of all that hath been created in the heavens or on the earth can escape My knowledge, and I am the True One, the Knower of things unseen’. The music is marked ‘Majestic’ and is built from slow moving harmonies and a rising two note phrase.

 Loftiness: The loftiness of the Creator God is exalted above all else and the Possessor of all things. This movement, marked to be played with energy, suggests a toccata. The main theme from movement 7 (also used in movement 14) is superimposed in the toccata-like passages and, towards the end, the theme takes over and ends the whole cycle powerfully and majestically, suggesting the loftiness of the Creator. Notice the affinity between this ending and that of movement no. 13, Power.




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