Ukiyo-e:

Pictures of the Floating World

for clarinet and piano

Duration: 1' 30"

Tony Park & Joshua Vigran: Ukiyo-e Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the Floating World

Performance History · Purchase Sheet Music

Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the Floating World was composed for clarinetist Thomas Piercy and pianist Claudine Hickman, who gave the world premiere performance in New York on April 8, 2012, as part of the 15 Minutes of Fame program on the Composer's Voice Concert Series. The video above by Tony Park, clarinet, and Joshua Vigran, piano, was awarded the 2015 Burke & Bagley Prize.

Ukiyo-e (literally "pictures of the floating world") is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan.

Usually the word ukiyo is literally translated as "floating world," referring to a conception of an evanescent world, impermanent, fleeting beauty and a realm of entertainments (kabuki, courtesans, geisha) divorced from the responsibilities of the mundane, everyday world; "pictures of the floating world," i.e. ukiyo-e, are considered a genre unto themselves.

The novelist Asai Ryoi, in his Ukiyo monogatari (Tales of the Floating World, c. 1661), provides some insight into the concept of the floating world:

... Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; ... refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world...

Photograph of Mt. Baker overlooking Puget Sound
taken in 2011 by Mitchell Haindfield.

View of Mount Fuji from Harajuku, part of the Fifty-three Stations
of the Tokaido
series by Hiroshige, published 1850.

Purchase Sheet Music

Sheet music for Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the Floating World is available from Art of Sound Music.

Performance History

World premiere April 8, 2012, by clarinetist Thomas Piercy and pianist Claudine Hickman as part of the 15 Minutes of Fame program on the Composer's Voice Concert Series in New York

April 14, 2012, Thomas Piercy, clarinet, & Claudine Hickman, piano, on the NYsoundCircuit multimedia salon concert series in Midtown New York

February, 23, 2013, Richard Prioste, clarinet, & Libby Kardontchik, piano, on the NACUSA-SF concert series at the Lucy Stern Ballroom in Palo Alto, California

May 18, 2013, Thomas Piercy & Mika Tanaka at the Queens New Music Festival, New York City

June 2, 2013, Thomas Piercy & Mika Tanaka at the Spectrum, New York City

January 19, 2014, Thomas Piercy & Yusuke Satoh in Tokyo, Japan

October 14, 2015, Johanna Krech & Oliver Portee at the Sparkasse Oder-Spree, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

February 18, 2016, Tony Park & Joshua Vigran at the Firehouse Space, Brooklyn, New York.

April 3, 2017, Reed & Ivory (Helen Goldsmith, clarinet, & Ben Cockburn, piano) at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle, UK.

April 5, 2017, Reed & Ivory at Headingley HEART, Leeds, UK.

April 7, 2017, Reed & Ivory at St Mary's Church, Sheffield, UK.

April 8, 2017, Reed & Ivory at Engine House, Manchester, UK.

April 10, 2017, Reed & Ivory at Seven Suite, Liverpool, UK.

April 13, 2017, Reed & Ivory at Clements Hall, York, UK.