Obsidian Butterfly

for Alto Saxophone and Piano

Program Note

Itzpapalotl (Obsidian Butterfly) was an Aztec warrior goddess who ruled over the paradise world of Tamoanchan where the gods created the human race. Itzpapalotl embodies two very different types of elegance: the sleek power of obsidian, a black volcanic rock, and the fragility and lightness of a butterfly. This piece tries to capture the essence of this unique combination.

Itzpapalotl takes on several forms throughout the piece. In the beginning, the new goddess slowly emerges from a stone cocoon and opens her black butterfly wings for the first time. After taking flight, she transforms into her most terrible form: a grotesque figure with a skeletal head and wings tipped with stone blades. Itzpapalotl changes between these two forms several times in the piece, and with her, the same melodic material is transformed from lyrical to fierce dance-like sections. At the climax of the piece, Itzpapalotl's main motive is combined for the first time with all of the other important melodic material from the piece, as the goddess gathers all her power for one last flight.


Obsidian Butterfly Sample Part (PDF)