When cleaning out my library, I came across a volume of fairy tales with stories from 1001 Nights, a book which I took great pleasure in reading as a child. I could
vaguely recall a story about the magnet mountain, and so I set about searching for the story about the legendary mountain. Upon reading the fairy tale again, I
realised: this story would be the basis for my next composition. And I can assure you this won’t be the only story from this book to be used as inspiration for my
THE STORY OF THE MAGNETIC MOUNTAIN
The progression of the story by bar number:
Every day, the faithful of the Great Mosque of Bagdad watched a slave arrive. His beard and hair were shorn and he wore a black eye patch over his left eye.
One day, a beautiful young woman approached him with graceful steps, her hips swaying. She drew back her veil and looked at him. ‘Take this packet with olives,
saffron flowers, gypsy weed and Syrian cheese to my house’, she said. The slave followed her bidding. Upon arriving at her house, the woman encouraged him to
rest. He sank in exhaustion onto her bed.
‘Where do you come from?’, she asked him. ‘I can see that you are a foreigner; your skin is lighter than ours. Tell me,
which land do you originate from and how did you lose your eye? Did you fight in a war or lose it due to an affliction?’
The slave shook his head. ‘No, no’, he said, ‘the affliction is my own doing. But that’s a long and curious tale’. ‘I thought as much’, answered the young woman. ‘I
would really like to hear it. I take pleasure in listening to you, and wish to hear who you really are.’ ‘Well then I shall tell you’, said the slave, and began to tell his story.
‘My name is Adschib; I am the son of Kassib. This name was once known on all the lands of this earth, as I was both king and son of a king. I was also a man of
learning. I read all the holy books; I was versed in the stars and the poets. When my father died, I ascended the throne. I was a just and gracious ruler who ruled
with wisdom and performed many good deeds. I was loved by my subjects. I delighted in sea trips and loved the sea for our capital stood on the shore. And I took
great pleasure in the islands that belonged to me.
One day, I desired to visit my islands, wherefore I chose a ship and, alongside my sailors, put out to sea.
The journey was calm, without a trace of peril. After 20 days and 20 nights, we discerned an island where we could rest. We came ashore, rested for a while, before
setting sail again. As we reached a considerable distance from the island, we lost our bearings. No one, not even the captain, knew their way through these foreign
waters. We instructed the sailor on watch: “Climb up to the top of the mast and see if you can catch a glimpse of something”. The sailor followed our command. He
climbed up to the masthead and looked vigilantly in every direction. Then he shouted:
“Oh my master, I see a curious object looming in the distance. One minute it is light, the next, dark.” The captain dashed his turban on the dirty deck and began
tearing his hair out in despair. “Heavens, we are doomed!” he cried in dismay. “I say to you all - no-one will be spared.” As we looked at him despairingly, we, too,
were overcome with sorrow. “Oh Captain”, I called. “Please, impart to us first what the watch actually witnessed.” “My Lord”, replied the Captain, “tomorrow, when
the day draws to an end, we will encounter a mountain of black stone: the Magnet Mountain. Even if we try to steer in the opposite direction the current will pull us
back in and we will be utterly powerless to stop it. As soon as the ship turns downwind, the planks will unbolt and every nail will fly out and cling to the mountain. For
the Almighty Allah has endowed this stone with a mystical power, and this mystical power enables him to draw all iron to him. A myriad of iron is already embedded
in the Magnetic Mountain and all ships lie in smithereens at the foot of it. At the pinnacle of this mountain stands a dome of yellow copper, vaulted upon ten columns.
On top of this dome sits a horseman made of brass. In his hand he holds a lance which points to a particular star in the sky. On his chest is a tablet of lead, upon
which the names of those in possession of mystical powers are graven. And one thing you must all know, oh my lord, as long as this rider sits on his horse, all the
ships that sail below him will perish. The enchantment will only be broken when the rider is toppled from his horse.” After this pronouncement, the captain began to
wail and curse. We saw death approaching. We said our farewells in desperation and entrusted our last wishes to others in the hope that one of us would survive.
During the night not one of us slept a wink. We were much closer to the mountain as the new day dawned. The water had taken hold of our ship and was sweeping
us unrelentingly towards the mountain. We were powerless to stop it.
Sure enough, as the ship drew closer, all the nails and iron in the wooden planks flew out and stuck firmly to the Magnet Mountain. The ship was smashed to
smithereens and we all plunged into the sea. Some of us were saved and others drowned. Yet those who were spared could not find each other and the waves and
wind cast them out into the unknown.
Allah did save my life, but only to send me more suffering and onerous trials to overcome.
I managed to scramble onto a plank from the ship. Holding onto it tightly I was able to propel myself to a rocky outcropping of the mountain. Finally, I pulled myself
up onto the outcropping. I fell to my knees and said a prayer thanking Allah for my salvation. But then I was overcome by weariness. I dropped to the ground and
Then I heard a voice in my sleep, saying: “Oh son of Kassib, listen to me! When you awaken, you must scrape away the earth beneath your feet. Here you will find
a bow of copper and three leaden arrows, upon which talismans are inscribed. Take the bow and arrows and shoot the horseman on top of the dome. When you
smite him you will bring peace back to mankind and free them from this curse for as soon as you hit him he will plunge into the sea. The horse will drop at your feet
- bury it in the sand. Then you will see a boat on the sea, in which a figure sits. The figure will hold an oar in his hand and approach you. Have no fear, but climb in
the boat. The figure will then guide you for ten days. After this time, you will reach the island known as the “Island of Sanctuary”. Here you will find people who can
take you back to your homeland.”
‘I awoke from my sleep and began forthright to execute the commands of the mysterious voice.
I searched for the bow and arrows in the sand and shot the horseman down from the dome. He plunged into the deep waters and the horse dropped at my feet. I
buried it immediately, as instructed.
As foretold, the sea began to surge up until it reached the mountain’s pinnacle. And here I could make out the boat slowly navigating its way towards me. As it got
closer, I could distinguish a man made of copper, with a tablet of lead on his chest. Names, numbers and symbols were graven on the tablet. And thus, the copper
man guided me for ten days through the floods. Then, at last, I saw the Island of Sanctuary in the distance.’
Born the 26 October 1977, Mario Bürki studied wind orchestral conducting at the Berne conservatory. He also followed courses in composition with Urs Peter
Scheider and conducting under the direction of Toshiyuki Shimada and Andreas Spörri. His first grand scale work Scenes of Max and Moritz gained a second place
in the composition contest in Lucerne organized by the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles ( WASBE). During the Flicorno d'Oro junior contest
(Italy), Indian Fire was awarded a special prize in acknowledgement of its originality. Mario Bürki is regularly commissioned to write for Wind and Brass Band. Two
of his works (Cap Hoorn und 1405 : Der Brand von Bern) were premiered at the Mid-Europe Conference in Schladming and several have been chosen as set testpiece
for contests. Alongside his composing he conducts various Wind Bands and teaches trumpet and theory. Mario himself plays the trumpet, the piano and the
|Subtitle||The Magnetic Mountain|
|Instrumentation||Concert Band/Wind Band|
|Not available in||Germany, United Kingdom|