Title, Duration, Place, Year, Publisher, Dedicated to, Premiere (performer(s), place, date)

RUBAIYAT, 20', Bayonne, 1990, U.M.P., à Dominique Deplus, David Titterington, Ripon Cathedral, U.K., 07.08.90


Rubaiyat ('Quatrains') is a symphonic suite in four movements. The title comes from the work of the Persian poet Omar Kháyyám.

The initial movement, Deciso, presents all the thematic material of the work in a ternary structure in an arabesque style. The Ostinato is an ensemble of free variations around an obsessional trochaïc cell. A very rhythmical and dancing scherzo, Molto Vivace precedes the finale, Allegro agitato, vehement expression of the passion underlying the whole work.

The composer proposes in epigraph for each movement a quatrain of Omar Kháyyám:

1 : "Already on the Day of Creation beyond the heavens my soul
searched for the Tablet and Pen and for heaven and hell;
at last thew Teacher said to me with his enlightened judgement,
'Tablet and Pen, and heaven and hell are within thyself' "

2 : "Do not allow sorrow to embrace thee,
nor an idle grief to occupy thy days;
forsake not the book and the lover's lips, and the green bank of the field,
ere that the earth enfold thee in its bosom."

3 : "O thou, whose cheek is moulded upon the model of the wild rose,
whose face is cast in the mould of Chinese idols,
yesterday thy amorous glance gave to the Shah of Babylon
the moves of the Knight, the Castle, the Bishop, the Pawn and the Queen."

4 : "Darvish! rend from thy body the figured veil,
rather than sacrifice thy body for the sake of that veil;
go and throw upon thy shoulders the old rug of poverty,
drums shall then beat for thee royal marches in the very core of thy heart."

© Naji Hakim



Naji Hakim : Rubaiyat, IV, page 35, excerpt from the autograph manuscript