Spiegel im Spiegel

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Spiegel im Spiegel
Chamber music by Arvo Pärt
The composer, Arvo Pärt, in 2008
KeyF major
Composed1978 (1978)
  • violin or other melody instrument
  • piano

Spiegel im Spiegel (lit.Tooltip literal translation 'mirror(s) in the mirror') is a composition by Arvo Pärt written in 1978, just before his departure from Estonia. The piece is in the tintinnabular style, wherein a melodic voice, operating over diatonic scales, and tintinnabular voice, operating within a triad on the tonic, accompany each other. It is about ten minutes long.


The piece was originally written for a single piano and violin – though the violin has often been replaced with either a cello or a viola. Versions also exist for saxophone, double bass, clarinet, horn, flugelhorn, flute, oboe, bassoon, trombone, and percussion. The piece is an example of minimal music.

The piece is in F major in 6/4 time, with the piano playing rising crotchet triads and the second instrument playing slow F major scales, alternately rising and falling, of increasing length, which all end on the note A (the mediant of F). The piano's left hand also plays notes, synchronised with the violin (or other instrument).

"Spiegel im Spiegel" in German can literally mean both "mirror in the mirror" and "mirrors in the mirror", referring to an infinity mirror, which produces an infinity of images reflected by parallel plane mirrors: the tonic triads are endlessly repeated with small variations as if reflected back and forth.[1] The structure of the melody is made by a pair of phrases characterized by the alternation between ascending and descending movement with the fulcrum on the note A. This alternation, along with the overturning of the final intervals between adjacent phrases (for example, ascending sixth in the question – descending sixth in the answer), contributes to give the impression of a figure reflecting on a mirror and walking back and toward it.

In 2011, the piece was the focus of a half-hour BBC Radio 4 programme, Soul Music, which examined pieces of music "with a powerful emotional impact". Violinist Tasmin Little discussed her relationship to the piece.[2][3]


The piece has been used in television, film, and theatre including:


Year Type Title Director
1996 film Mother Night Keith Gordon
2001 film In Praise of Love Jean-Luc Godard
2001 film The Officers' Ward François Dupeyron
2001 film Wit Mike Nichols
2002 film Gerry Gus Van Sant
2002 short film Dans le Noir du Temps Jean-Luc Godard
2002 film Heaven Tom Tykwer
2002 film Soldados de Salamina (Spain) David Trueba
2002 film Swept Away Guy Ritchie
2002 film On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate Hong Sang-soo
2004 film Dear Frankie Shona Auerbach
2005 film Time to Leave François Ozon
2005 documentary Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution' Laurence Rees and Catherine Tatge
2008 film Elegy Isabel Coixet
2011 film Burning Man Jonathan Teplitzky
2011 film This Must Be the Place Paolo Sorrentino
2011 documentary The Umbrella Man - New York Times Op-Docs Errol Morris
2013 film About Time Richard Curtis
2012 trailer Silent House
2013 trailer Gravity Alfonso Cuarón
2013 film The East Zal Batmanglij
2013 film Movie 43 Peter Farrelly and others
2014 film The Way He Looks Daniel Ribeiro
2020 TV The Good Place Michael Schur
2021 film You Won't Be Alone Goran Stolevski
2023 TV Ted Lasso Nick Mohammed





  • U.S. ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani in their free dance titled Evolution for the season 2016–17.
  • Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva adapted this song as her short programme music for two seasons: 2018-2019 and 2019–2020.
  • Japanese figure skater Shoma Uno, as part of his free program for the season of 2023–2024.


Spiegel im Spiegel was recorded by Gidon Kremer and Elena Kremer in December 1979 and featured on the 1980 album Konzert nach dem Konzert on the Eurodisc label. Spiegel im Spiegel is featured on the 1999 album Alina on the ECM New Series label. The album, which was recorded with the participation of Pärt, includes three versions of Spiegel im Spiegel, two for violin and piano and one for cello and piano, alternated with two variations of Pärt's piano piece Für Alina.[6] The tempo of the first version of Spiegel im Spiegel is 69 bpm (larghetto or adagio) and has a more somber feel. The tempo of the second version is faster at 85 bpm (andante) and gives the sense of pushing forward. The tempo of the third version is faster than the first and slower than the second at 78 bpm (a slower andante).

Spiegel im Spiegel is featured on the 2016 album Sacred by Australian violinist Niki Vasilakis and features Deanna Djuric on piano.

Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti has the track on her 2009 album Fantasie.


  1. ^ "Page vide".
  2. ^ BBC Radio 4 - Soul Music, Series 12, Spiegel im Spiegel
  3. ^ BBC Radio 4 – Soul Music
  4. ^ "La Ménagerie de verre".
  5. ^ "The Good Place" Whenever You're Ready (TV Episode 2020) - IMDb, retrieved 2020-02-03
  6. ^ "Arvo Pärt: Alina". ECM Records. Retrieved 2020-11-12.

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