Commissioned by Duo Stump-Linshalm
First performance by Duo Stump-Linshalm - Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalm, Alte Schmiede, Vienna, Austria, 13 June 2008
YouTube performance by Ashley William Smith and Samuel Curkpatrick. Recorded at the Australian National Academy of Music, South Melbourne Town Hall, 20 May 2010. The request to compose a three-minute duo for Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalm came shortly after I had begun composing my opera Rembrandt’s Wife (2007–09). I very much wanted to write the duo, but it was hard to think about anything except the opera, so in the end I combined the two projects. I composed the duo with the intention of later scoring it for the nine-piece ensemble of the opera and using it as an interlude. Although, at the time of composition I wasn’t exactly sure where it would appear in the opera, the descending jagged clarinet lines suggested grief and so I called the piece The Tears of Geerjte Dircx, after Rembrandt’s servant and temporary lover whom the painter had committed to an asylum. As it happened, the three minutes of music found their place in the opera at exactly the moment of Geertje’s betrayal.