Oculus aquilae

by Paavo Heininen

Trittico per organo

Empty sheet

Paavo Heininen

Oculus aquilae

Music Finland


Oculus aquilae was my first major work for organ. The instrumental viewpoint was based on the idea of three virtuoso performers, each of which could in turn play any role from a cast of several characters — trio writing without much stability in the registration or motivic contents of each layer. The coloristic aspect, as well as further instrumental interest, was secondary — as so often in my work of that period — with the exception of some interplay with different colours meeting at the unison, or melodies with high overtone registration, where the unity of line will be split so that the overtones continue their melodic figure while the basic pitch remains on aholding note.

The form does not really operate with, but shows reflection or refractions of, traditional polyphonic or variation types. The triptych has much in common with my later piano sonata Poesia squillante ed incandescente: the general structure and characterization of three panels, the density (= often rather massive), the time scale (= often rather long, slow climaxes into these massive corner stones); the sonata with its 40 minutes is still longer than the triptych.

And what has the piece to do with St Thomas of Aquin? Honestly, nothing; it was only several years after composition that the pale title of Trittico was replaced with Oculus aquilae. But this title is not dishonest either. After reading Chesterton on St Thomas, I planned a vocal work on Aquinas fragments, com-bined with quotations from men of our time to repeat what the mo-dern man can learn from St Thomas; the whole to parallel the form of ordinarium missae. So, the music in itself is true, as is my self-identification with the motto quotations. Unfortunately, to claim that I do not admit any closer psychological parallelism between musical and verbal form, is not equally true — see my vocal work. (By the way, exactly the same thing passed in the case of my next set of organ pieces and their mottoes — from Rilke.)

© Paavo Heininen, ca. 1974




Works for Solo Instrument

Opus no.



Frederick Rimmer, Glasgow, 23 October 1978


1. Res sunt in Deo, 2. Deus honoratur silentio, 3. Oculus aquilae

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by the Association of Finnish Soloists

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