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At the Limits of Entropy : for wind band

by Simon Barber (2009)

Work Overview

Two excerpts translated from the forward to Erwin Schrödinger's 1944 book "What is Life?"…

"…Karl Popper once suggested that the reason for [Ludwig] Boltzmann's suicide had something to do with a physics problem he couldn't solve (Popper 1979). It had to do with the second law of thermodynamics which can be described with the help of a function called "entropy".... which says something about the missing order in a system. The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy always increases. This is familiar to us in every day life; ultimately chaos increases in every physical system left to itself. From order arises disorder. However, with respect to life forms the second law doesn't seem to apply.... Boltzmann, who celebrated Darwin's insights concerning evolution as being the most important discovery of his time, predicted here difficult (but solvable) problems for his science. He knew that his description of the fight for survival as being that of a struggle around entropy.... only illustrated the surface of the difficulties (Boltzmann 1979)."

"The problem of order has now been made understandable due to a very general approach. Life doesn't stand in conflict with physical laws. Thanks to the work of Ilya Prigogine and his group we now know that life is only possible a long way from a thermodynamic balance. When under these conditions the production of entropy becomes minimal - which Prigogine could demonstrate - order then arises and "dissipative structures" form (Prigogine and Stengers, 1980)"

Work Details

Year: 2009

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, soprano clarinet, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, alto clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, bassoon, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, euphonium, tuba, timpani, percussion (2 players), piano.

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Written at the invitation of Simon Reade for the Hobart Wind Symphony in 2008

First performance: by Hobart Wind Symphony — 2009. St. David's Cathedral, Hobart

Performances of this work

8 Dec 2018: at Musings (St David's Cathedral, Hobart). Featuring Hobart Wind Symphony, Simon Reade.

2009: St. David's Cathedral, Hobart. Featuring Hobart Wind Symphony.

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