2005 ABC live talk about Terra Incognita Radio host Damien Beaumont


Terra Incognita woodwind & pno trio. Broadcast on ABC radio


Terra Incognita for flute, clarinet & piano.
2 Movts – 11 min.

I:  Misterioso        5:30 min.
II: Appassionato  5:30 min.


Deborah de Graaff – clarinet
Leah Lock – flute
John Martin – piano

* Live ABC FM talk features radio host Damien Beaumont and the performers talking about the Australian inspiration and unique playing effects in Terra Incognita – 3:30 min.

Program Note for flute, clarinet, piano:

Terra Incognita was originally composed for a live recital on ABC Classic FM. Premiered by Deborah de Graaff (clarinet), Leah Lock (flute), John Martin (piano) with radio host Damien Beaumont, this ABC recital (3/11/2005) was an all-Australian program that also included works by Ross Edwards and Moya Henderson.

Terra Incognita is Latin for “the unknown land of the South”. It refers to the imaginary continent ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ that appeared on European maps from the 15th to the 18th Century. The idea of Terra ‘Australis’ Incognita – the great south land – was developed by the ancient Greeks. They theorised that the earth was round and that there surely exists a large southern landmass to balance the weight of the known world of the northern hemisphere. Maps depicted this massive assumed continent which stretched all the way to the South Pole.

This idea was met with much controversy in Europe in the Middle Ages, but was revived in the fifteenth century as a new sense of exploration swept through Europe. Scientist, Alexander Dalrymple’s claim of the existence of an unknown continent aroused widespread interest and prompted the British government in 1769 to order the explorer, James Cook, in HM Bark Endeavour to seek out the Southern Continent to the South and West of Tahiti. The expedition eventually led in 1770 to the British discovery and charting of the Eastern coastline of Australia. By 1818, several more subantarctic islands had been discovered, but the mystery of the existence of Terra ‘Australis’ Incognita still remained unsolved.

Terra Incognita consists of two movements. In reflection of the title, the chosen melodies, harmonies and bird-like effects symbolically represent the sounds of nature and landscape of Australia. The piece begins with a mystifying and eerie quality created by the soft, distant chords in the piano, bird-like sounds of the clarinet and poignant flute melody that are played inside the piano. In the first movement, the search and exploration for the ‘great south land’ is depicted by lingering chords and interweaving melodies between the flute, clarinet and piano which at times have an unresolved quality contrasting with the loud, intense and forceful passages of the second movement. Dalrymple’s belief of the continent’s existence is portrayed by the fully developed lyrical, melodic passages, thick harmonies, playful and dance-like passages, which convey a feeling of certainty and assurance. The piece builds to an exciting climax with complex syncopated rhythms, metre changes and rapid scalic passages showcasing the technical virtuosity of the three players. Thrilling trill and glissando effects create a powerful and breathtaking finish.

© 2005 by Katia Beaugeais.

Available for:

  • Flute, Bb clarinet & piano
  • Oboe, bassoon & piano
  • Flute, violin & piano
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