Four Noble Truths, Sonata for cello and piano

Four Noble Truths, sonata for cello and piano in four movements, (2007) duration c. 30 min. World premiere March 12, 2011 Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington, MA Yehuda Hanani, cello and Walter Ponce, piano presented by Close Encounters With Music.


Recorded on Albany Troy 1279. “Cello Music of Jorge Martin”

Program notes

This sonata is a tone-poem freely inspired by a reading of the Four Noble Truths. I wrote it in gratitude for Yehuda Hanani, who has premiered and commissioned most of my music for cello.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, is said to have discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way—a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Sitting under the Bodhi tree, he vowed never to arise until he had found the Truth. After 49 days meditating, at the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment. Gautama, from then on, was known as the Buddha, the “Awakened One” or the “Enlightened One.” At this point, he realized complete awakening and insight into the nature and cause of human suffering which was ignorance, along with steps necessary to eliminate it. These truths were then categorized into the Four Noble Truths:

1. Dukkha
All existence is impermanent [unsatisfactory, insubstantial, imperfect].
All living entails suffering. Suffering is unavoidable.
Ordinary suffering (what the Buddha calls the three great teachers: sickness, old age and death, and the loss of a loved one) and the suffering of impermanence are inevitable. The suffering of conditioned states is optional.
2. Samudaya
Suffering arises because of craving, or desire [the delusions of attachment, emotions and ignorance].
The origin of suffering is attachment [to pleasure, opinions, traditions, behaviors, self].
3. Nirodha
The cessation of suffering is attainable. Eliminating craving eliminates suffering.
There is a way to end suffering.
4. Magga
The Path to the Cessation of Suffering
The Middle Way, or the Noble Eightfold Path:
To cultivate wisdom: Right understanding, Right thinking
To cultivate ethical behavior: Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood
To cultivate mental discipline: Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration