Star Burning Blue

Kelly-Marie Murphy
10 min

Star Burning Blue was commissioned by the Esther Honens International Piano Competition for Maxim Philippov; first laureate of the 1996 competition. It is a single movement work lasting approximately 8 minutes, and roughly depicts the life cycle of a main sequence, supergiant star.

Main sequence stars, such as the sun, make up 90% of the stars seen from earth. Some supergiant stars are of a high luminosity and shine with a blue light which indicates their high temperature. The strong gravity of the massive star attracts more and more matter to it, giving it greater mass. This, in turn, magnifies the star’s gravitational influence, which increases the rate at which it can gather more matter. The bigger the blue star becomes, the brighter shines, and the faster it burns its nuclear fuel, until the inevitable stellar explosion. Then cycle begins again in the remnants of the supernova.

This piece explores a musical cycle of power and energy, where stability spins out of control and then is regained. The tempo increases, the range becomes more and more extreme. When the shattering finally occurs, time is slowed by relativistic effects as high energy fragments rush out into the vacuum. The irony is that this peaceful moment is created by violent destruction. As the particles of music drift, they are eventually caught in their mutual attraction and coalesce once again.