The title of this work, a word that generally connotes the awe-inspiring mystery and majesty of the ancient Egyptians, is something of an irony, as it is really a very light-hearted and playful tune for solo piano. To add to this playful effect, the ostinato played on five “prepared” notes is heard throughout. As a further irony, Dr. Carbon wrote this piece soon after celebrating his 39th birthday and, evidently beginning to feel his own mortality, included musical excerpts that dealt with death and passing: the traditional Gregorian chant “Dies Irae”. a theme from the Les Adieux Sonata by Beethoven, a leitmotif from the opening of Wagner’s Das Rheinhold with clock chimes which symbolize the passage of time. (notes by Peter Smith)

Selected Performances of Sphinx

Premiere: January 27, 1991, Peter Smith, piano, senior recital at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA

© John Carbon 2015