Marvels of Creatures and Strange Things Existing is a set of six preludes for piano, each inspired by a mythological creature. The piece takes its name from Zakariya al-Qazwini’s thirteenth-century cosmographical treatise, containing descriptions of every living thing in existence, including many creatures which we may now consider mythological.
“The Sprite” portrays a nimble and mischievous fairy from European folklore. “The Siren” brings to mind the creatures from Homer’s Odyssey who lure sailors to their death with their enchanting singing voices. “The Sphinx” conjures up the mercilessly riddling creature of ancient Egyptian mythology. “The Simurgh” represents the enormous, benevolent bird from Persian mythology, who symbolizes rebirth. “The Sea Serpent” evokes a sinuous serpent who drags sailors to the depths of the ocean. “The Shadhahvar” depicts a legendary deer whose antlers create music when held in the wind, like an Aeolian harp.