Steve Reich's "Daniel Variations"

I haven't had a lot of time to listen to music lately, but when I do the first thing I have to play is Daniel Variations, by Steve Reich. It is about Daniel Pearl, who I think everyone knows is the writer kidnaped by Islamic militants who taped his brutal murder. This piece of music doesn't attempt to tell the story in a narrative style, but does use a chorus in my favorite movement titled My Name is Daniel Pearl (I'm a Jewish American from Encino California).

One critic in a web review thought that the phrase "My Name is Daniel Pearl" was mundane. I found the opposite to be true for a number of reasons. When anyone is help prisoner and is brought before a camera the first thing they do is to say their own name. How they say it tells a lot about their mental state and countless other things. These words were also written in Arabic, superimposed over his picture on the video of his death. Reich handles the phrase in a variety of ways and ends with a loud crescendo of many voices. But the mood of the piece itself is nuanced, mixed with beauty, a sense of dignity and with seriousness of course.

There is also a film, "A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl," taken from a book written by Daniel's wife Mariane Pearl.