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James Mobberley

James Mobberley

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General Info

Year: 1999
Duration: c. 21:30
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Cautious Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $325.00   |   Score Only (print) - $80.00


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I-II-III

(Percussion detail needed)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Edges is inspired by several events in my life over the period of 1995-97. Two are near-death experiences, while the third is the sudden passing of one of my closest colleagues and best friends, Professor Robert Cooper. The first movement, Back from the Edge, is a chronicle of the battle that I waged with "flesh-eating strep", which nearly cost me my life in spring, 1995. A fragment of a line from French playwright Jean Genet's "Prisoner of Love" served as additional inspiration:

"Perhaps all music, even the newest, is not so much something discovered as something that re-emerges from where it lay in memory, inaudible as a melody cut in a disc of flesh. A composer lets me hear a song that has always been shut up silent within me."

In a sense, my life has re-emerged from where it lay, for a while, silent, in memory.

Movement II, Postcards, is inspired by my mentor and friend, composer Donald Erb, who had his own near-death experience about a year later in the same Ithaca, New York hospital (a bizarre coincidence). I know that he shared many of the mental aberrations I experienced during the recovery process, and Postcards reflects the strange visions, the elusive but more and more frequent moments of clarity, and the eventual return to reality that such experiences create. For me, in retrospect, these thoughts were like vivid postcards of other realities, sent to me by another part of my mind and filtered through the pain, the fear, and the medications that I had been given. There was also a highly obsessive quality to my thoughts during the recovery, which is reflected in the primary melodic material which simply refuses to disappear, though it changes colors, dynamics, and tempos at every turn.

Postcards -- real postcards, that is -- also played a role in my experiences. While recovering, I received a post card (often of questionable taste) every two or three days from Don. When it was his turn to be in recovery, it was my turn to send him postcards (equally questionable)...they seem now to me to be a lifeline to reality from people who are eager to welcome us back.

A quote was inspirational for this second movement as well, this time from Hermann Hesse's Damien:

"In each individual the spirit is made flesh, in each one the whole of creation suffers, in each one a Savior is crucified."

The final movement is a reflection on the amazing, wonderful, and sometimes difficult life of my colleague, Robert Cooper. Robert had, without a doubt, the speediest metabolism of anyone I have ever known. Lunch with Robert could be defined as both of us eating for the first five minutes and Robert watching me finish eating for the last forty-five. Robert had two computers in his office and a phone; often all three were busy at once, while he carried on at least one additional conversation with whomever was present. Yet Robert had great depth too. He was a living example to students and colleagues, especially in facing life's travails with courage and conviction. He was also funny as hell. I suppose that Robert's pace was impossible to sustain, and in fact he died suddenly at the age of 45 on September 18, 1997. No quotations needed with this movement. This one's for you, man.

- Program Note by James Mobberley

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Missouri, Kansas City, Wind Symphony (Steven D. Davis, conductor) – 29 September 2016

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • James Mobberley, personal correspondence, April 2019