Legend of the Dwarfs (string quartet), 2009 [7'30"]

Program notes

This piece was inspired by the mysterious Dwarf Festival of the Saisiyat Tribe, an aboriginal tribe in Taiwan. As legend has it, during the 16th century the Saisiyat Tribe lived in the Miaoli region neighboring the Dwarf Tribe. The Dwarfs were short but strong warriors capable of sorcery. At the beginning, the Dwarfs befriended the Saisiyats and taught them how to grow crops. But later the Dwarfs used the opportunity to take advantage of Saisiyat women. The Saisiyats finally fought back by sabotaging a wooden bridge leading back to the Dwarfs’ village. Almost the entire Dwarf Tribe fell into the river and perished. After getting rid of the Dwarfs, the Saisiyats experienced poor harvest year after year. The guilt on their conscience and the fear of revenge from the Dwarfs’ spirits prompted the Saisiyats to start the ritual of the Dwarf Festival in late autumn, which has been passed down the generations and is held even today.

The intent of this composition was to create the legendary dramas and scenes musically. Shapes of the Dwarf spirits were symbolized by using modern composition techniques. The music follows the single-movement sonata form. In the exposition, a peaceful society with the Saisiyats and the Dwarfs living in harmony is depicted. In the development, the confrontation between the two tribes begins, leading to the tragic extinction of the Dwarfs. In the recapitulation, ruefulness and reverence of the Saisiyats are soothed by the memorial for the Dwarfs, which through numerous generations has evolved into today’s biennial Dwarf Festival.