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A great test for advanced pianists, Jettatura is a moto perpetuo, and another example of a high-energy work. Requiring heavy and impassioned fingering, Jettatura is shot through with defiance and aggression. The left hand insists with a stream of ostinatos while the right hand flies almost incautiously over the keys, stretching to the piano’s upper register.

For a country that is home to me in so many ways, Greece has not been so kind to this particular absent son. Practically every journey I have made there has left me with a permanent reminder of some unpleasant and often bizarre experience. From donkey bites to the groin, to motorbike accidents on the island of Santorini, to a protracted, salmonella-induced weight loss that would have made Jenny Craig’s eyes water, it is not surprising that members of my family there began to imagine I had fallen under the influence of someone’s evil eye.

An expedition to Greece in 1998 brought an unprecedented onslaught of bad luck, this time involving my wife and son. My dear, concerned, sister went to the village-expert in such matters to discover if I was inflicted with the evil eye (also known as mal occhio, or jettatura). Jettatura is the ancient belief that the gaze of strangers casts unwanted magic into the lives of the innocent . The belief is that a person — otherwise not malefic in any way — can harm you, your children, your livestock, merely by looking at them with envy and praising them. The soothsayer, when checking my aura by long distance (these days such matters can of course, be conducted over the phone via free-call numbers), gasped, went silent, and declared I was so heavily and completely hexed that my halo was utterly opaque.

In Greece there is a talisman one can wear, or place in a car, house, or shop, which protects against the evil eye (in some countries, one must protect oneself against false compliments by spitting on the person who proffers the compliment). This talisman is in the form of a glass blue eye, a ‘good eye’. Jettatura, written upon returning from Greece, is my talisman, my good eye.


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Jettatura (solo piano)

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Project Details

Jettatura (solo piano)

for Piano

Instrumentation: Piano

Premiered by Susanne Achilles on November 21, 1999 at the 49th concert of the MM::99 Festival, Ludenscheid, Germany

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