In the dreaming man’s dream, the dreamed man awoke (2020)
For piano solo
World premiere: Jihye Chang Sung, piano, 18 November 2020, online
The title of the piece, “In the dreaming man’s dream, the dreamed man awoke," is inspired by a short story “The Circular Ruins" (original Spanish title: “Las ruinas circulares") by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. It was published in December 1940.
The story is about: a wizard arrives at the burned ruins of an ancient temple. He falls asleep immediately, and he would like to dream of a man and bring him into reality. He keeps practicing dreaming and dreams of a group of students on anatomy and magic. He hopes to find “a soul worthy of participating in the universe." He successfully picked a student in his dream, but he couldn’t turn him into reality due to insomnia. He then consults the deity of the temple: “Fire."
He begins to dream the man piece by piece, from the heart to other organs and features. His student, the man, is finally turned into reality, and the wizard sends him to another temple. The wizard destroys his student’s memory of being a phantom. One day, he heard that his student could walk on fire without being burned. The wizard fears his student will find out his true origins, but then a forest fire interrupts the wizard’s worries. The forest fire burns the wizard, and he feels no pain. At last, the wizard finally realizes he too is an illusion created by some else dream: In the dreaming man’s dream, the dreamed mam awoke.
This piano solo work depicts the composer’s imagination and emotion in reading this uncanny and dreamy story. The color of idealism, liminality between “real and fake" world, meaningful dreams, and immortality inspire the composer to explore the soundscape of the circularity of dream and reality on two-handed piano playing and writing.