Spiegel im Spiegel (lit. 'mirror(s) in the mirror') is a composition by Arvo Pärt written in 1978, just before his departure from Estonia. The piece is in the tintinnabular style, wherein a melodic voice, operating over diatonic scales, and tintinnabular voice, operating within a triad on the tonic, accompany each other. It is about ten minutes long.
|Spiegel im Spiegel|
|Chamber music by Arvo Pärt|
The piece was originally written for a single piano and violin – though the violin has often been replaced with either a cello or a viola. Versions also exist for double bass, clarinet, horn, flugelhorn, flute, oboe, bassoon, trombone, and percussion. The piece is an example of minimal music.
The piece is in F major in 6/4 time, with the piano playing rising crotchet triads and the second instrument playing slow F major scales, alternately rising and falling, of increasing length, which all end on the note A (the mediant of F). The piano's left hand also plays notes, synchronised with the violin (or other instrument).
"Spiegel im Spiegel" in German literally can mean both "mirror in the mirror" as well as "mirrors in the mirror", referring to an infinity mirror, which produces an infinity of images reflected by parallel plane mirrors: the tonic triads are endlessly repeated with small variations as if reflected back and forth. The structure of melody is made by couple of phrases characterized by the alternation between ascending and descending movement with the fulcrum on the note A. This, with also the overturning of the final intervals between adjacent phrases (for example, ascending sixth in the question – descending sixth in the answer), contribute to give the impression of a figure reflecting on a mirror and walking back and toward it.
In 2011, the piece was the focus of a half-hour BBC Radio 4 programme, Soul Music, which examined pieces of music "with a powerful emotional impact". Violinist Tasmin Little discussed her relationship to the piece.
The piece has been used in television, film, and theatre including:
|1996||film||Mother Night||Keith Gordon|
|2001||film||In Praise of Love||Jean-Luc Godard|
|2001||film||The Officers' Ward||François Dupeyron|
|2002||film||Gerry||Gus Van Sant|
|2002||short film||Dans le Noir du Temps||Jean-Luc Godard|
|2002||film||Soldados de Salamina (Spain)||David Trueba|
|2002||film||Swept Away||Guy Ritchie|
|2002||film||On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate||Hong Sang-soo|
|2004||film||Dear Frankie||Shona Auerbach|
|2005||film||Time to Leave||François Ozon|
|2005||documentary||Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution'||Laurence Rees and Catherine Tatge|
|2011||film||Burning man||Jonathan Teplitzky|
|2011||film||This Must Be the Place||Paolo Sorrentino|
|2011||documentary||The Umbrella Man - New York Times Op-Docs||Errol Morris|
|2013||film||About Time||Richard Curtis|
|2013||film||The East||Zal Batmanglij|
|2013||film||Movie 43||Peter Farrelly and others|
|2014||film||The Way He Looks||Daniel Ribeiro|
|2015||film||La tête haute||Emmanuelle Bercot|
Spiegel im Spiegel was recorded by Gidon Kremer and Elena Kremer in December 1979 and featured on the 1980 album Konzert nach dem Konzert on the Eurodisc label. Spiegel im Spiegel is featured on the 1999 album Alina on the ECM New Series label. The album, which was recorded with the participation of Pärt, includes three versions of Spiegel im Spiegel, two for violin and piano and one for cello and piano, alternated with two variations of Pärt’s piano piece Für Alina. The tempo of the first version of Spiegel im Spiegel is 69 bpm (larghetto or adagio) and has a more somber feel. The tempo of the second version is faster at 85 bpm (andante) and gives the sense of pushing forward. The tempo of the third version is faster than the first and slower than the second at 78 bpm (a slower andante).
Spiegel im Spiegel is featured on the 2016 album Sacred by Australian violinist Niki Vasilakis and features Deanna Djuric on piano.