Nine Proverbs was inspired by the painting of the same name by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1647) which I saw a few years ago at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I was at once seduced by satirical and anecdotal aspects of this painting, as well as the simplified picturesque forms and literal presentation of the actual meaning of the proverbs.

Nine Proverbs has nine attacca movements with nine contrasting atmospheres. We can, although, recognise similar elements: modes, chords, rhythmical structures and colours, which will produce formal connections from one section to the other.

Nine Proverbs was composed in 2000 for the Esprit Orchestra, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

The nine movements are:

  1. Falling between two stools into ashes (Making up to your mind after others have decided)
  2. Drinking to excess constantly causing poverty, ruin and dishonour
  3. Hanging a blue cloak on a husband (Cheating on a husband)
  4. Not bearing the sun to shine on water (Being envious)
  5. Fishing behind the net (Missing an opportunity)
  6. Pissing on the moon (Attempting the impossible)
  7. Filling the well after the calf has drowned (Locking the stable door after the horse has bolted)
  8. Throwing roses before pigs (Casting pearls before swine)
  9. Hanging your coat in the direction of the wind (Making up your mind after others have decided)
  • Recording: available at SMCQ’s office


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