Gandolfi wrote the movements of the Gardens of Cosmic Speculation to be performed in no particular order, just as one might see and smell any number of rooms while meandering through the work’s namesake in Scotland.


Here are Gandolfi’s own liner notes about the piece:

“These ‘unusual’ aspects of Jencks’ garden were my motivation for musical composition. I have long been interested in modern physics and it seemed proper for music to participate in this magnificent joining of physics and architecture. I discovered The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in January of this year [2004] and after a month or so of sketching musical ideas I decided to focus on several aspects of the garden to which I had the strongest musical response. As I began the actual process of composition, it became clear that the vast subject matter would be best served in a series of works, which I intend to realize over the next several years.
The "Zeroroom" is the formal entrance to the garden. It is a fanciful, surreal cloakroom flanked by an orderly procession of tennis racquets that appear to be traveling through the wall in a ‘quantum dance,’ and large photographs that progress from our place in the universe, galaxy, solar system, planet, to the precise position of the garden in the north of Scotland . At the end of this corridor is a door with a mirror under which is inscribed ‘IUIUIUIUEYEWEYEWEYEWEYEW.’ Over the mirror is a pair of eyes carved into the wood. One places ones eyes against the carved eyes for a view to the garden. The first object one sees in the garden is a Yew tree. I composed a work in which a succession of episodes emerge from and acquiesce to a "cosmic cloud," depicting this journey from the macro view of the universe to the micro view of the yew tree.
In many respects, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a garden of waves with images of soliton waves being the most prevalent. They are found in the fine iron fencework, the small and large land sculptures and in details of the stonework that abound in the garden. A soliton wave has the special property of being able to join with other waves, combine to create new waveforms, and then emerge completely unchanged, with no "memory" of having joined or passed through other waves. My second movement, "Soliton Waves" features many waves that are readily heard as musical ideas that pass among instrumental groups. After an initial wave courses through the orchestra from low to high, a melodic line is presented in the strings propagating smaller waves throughout the orchestra. This "wave" has both a diatonic component and a chromatic component, each of which assumes a prominent role in two large development sections that depict the joining of soliton waves in the creation of new waveforms. Ultimately the original waveform reemerges completely unchanged.
"The Snail and the Poetics of Going Slow" is Jencks’ title for a large land-object that appears as a smoothly realized turning of the earth into a spiral shape. I chose to focus on the serene quality of this majestic garden structure.
"The Nonsense" is a small building that occupies a prominent position in the garden. The front of the building was designed by James Stirling from fragments of the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, while the back of the structure was designed by Jencks. Inscribed on the inner beams of the structure are words from Charles Baudelair’s poem "Correspondences," which describes reality as a forest of symbols that mix up the senses. A quote from Jencks best describes this kinetic, post-modern structure:

“Stirling’s pavilion was never intended to be used, so its conversion into a lookout was functionally nonsensical; for instance, on reaching the top, the view is blocked by a beam that also makes sitting difficult. The steep stair is designed for single alternating steps, while the syncopating squares in gray also disorient the sense of balance [...] Confusion, synaesthesia, or the correspondences between everything in the world- and yet a crystal order.”

Jencks’ last sentence in the quote above is a fine metaphor for the entire garden. I was so impressed by the wonderfully odd design of ‘The Nonsense’ and its conspicuous position in the garden that I chose to compose a moderate-length movement representing a panoramic view of the building. The overall form of my composition is binary, which is an exact match for the external structure of the building with its overall bilateral symmetry. (However, the front two sides differ significantly from the rear two sides.) The building is clearly postmodern in design with strong mid-twentieth-century modernist overtones. I chose to incorporate references to modernist music of the mid- to late- twentieth century to match the postmodern architectural design.”


In all chance music, the live performance has the final say in what is played.  Gandolfi wanted to give the conductors a chance to lead the orchestra into the garden and guide it from room to room.


Gandolfi received a Grammy nomination in 2009 for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.


Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.