31 August 2014
30 August 2014
I want the re-introduction of my own music to be a welcome "change," so none of the music we'll put in the folders this week will be my own.
Well, nearly: one of the Christmas pieces is Bill Grabbe's lovely setting of Hodie Christus natus est, which I arranged.
27 August 2014
25 August 2014
Viz. Dona nobis pacem: Paul wrote back early yesterday with a warm (i.e., positive) response to the 'A' section. Originally, I had intended to work some more on the 'B' section yesterday, but . . . while I think I have got it off to an acceptable start, I realized that I want first to plan out the 'architecture' of the 'B' section, just as I did with the larger-scale Mystic Trumpeter. I expect I shall "write through" the Whitman text for the 'B' section more efficiently (I mean, in less time, and no whit less musically) when I shall have bent just a little thought to an overall scheme - the benefit of knowing where one is going, which in this case is a bit easier, too, since I have material for the 'C' section, and already have an idea where to go then (i.e., at the end of 'B').
There is ample time to Get It Right, and of course, since Paul responded so artfully to (among other pieces) Plotting, this is an ongoing collaboration which has the composer motivated in all the right ways to go on Getting It Right.
Had a good long talk with Mark on the phone yesterday. Among other matters, we're getting ideas flowing for my trip to Atlanta in November. Olivia is necessarily preoccupied at present with the launch of the school year (and other events, besides) . . . I am hoping before long to have her thoughts on the various scores I've passed on to her.
Choir season is nigh! And I need to compose an article for the church newsletter, this morning.
Without further ado, a piece for solo harp by Gabriel Valverde.
And a piece for piano solo, played by Gabriel's equally accomplished wife, Haydée Schvartz.
24 August 2014
23 August 2014
Dona nobis pacem.
I saw the day the return of the heroes;
(Yet the heroes never surpass'd shall never return,
Them that day I saw not.)
No holiday soldiers—youthful, yet veterans,
Worn, swart, handsome, strong, of the stock of homestead and workshop,
Harden'd of many a long campaign and sweaty march,
Inured on many a hard-fought bloody field.
A pause—the armies wait,
A million flush'd embattled conquerors wait,
The world too waits, then soft as breaking night and sure as dawn,
They melt, they disappear.
Exult O lands! victorious lands!
Not there your victory on those red shuddering fields;
But here and hence your victory.
Melt, melt away, ye armies—disperse, ye blue-clad soldiers,
Resolve ye back again, give up for good your deadly arms,
Other the arms the fields henceforth for you, or South or North,
With saner wars, sweet wars, life-giving wars
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.
Dona nobis pacem.
The overall design for the Op.123 is:
- Dona nobis pacem, partially set by imitation :: A section, 2'00
- Texts from Whitman, periodic solo passages, interspersed with choral statements :: B Section, 4'30
- Dona nobis pacem, partially set by imitation :: C section, 3'30
22 August 2014
. . . best known for his pioneering advocacy of the choral works of Handel in period-instrument performances, but also led numerous world premieres of works by Daniel Pinkham, Scott Wheeler, and others.Regretfully, my only memory of Don is negative. At the invitation of a friend, the late John Swift, I allowed myself to send Don a score or two. Now, he might have told John, No, this sort of work doesn't fit with our musical plans; but, as it was, he permitted John to welcome me to submit a score or two for his perusal. And as a result, I was informed that Don considered my work unworthy of his attention, unworthy of the Boston Cecilia's time.
This did not hurt my feelings; it was but another case where a conductor, who nominally champions new music by living composers, failed to see the musical merit of my work. So much the worse for them and their musical acumen.
I am sure Don was a fine conductor; sure that he was a fine and deservedly respected teacher. I know that many (friends of mine among them) will miss him, and rightly mourn him.
I only wish I had more pleasant occasions to remember him by.
21 August 2014
More sketches for the Op.123 chorus-&-piano piece while I was on the bus this morning. From a couple of days ago, I have a piano introduction, and I am not sure I am going to keep it. Ideas are still gelling, but soon I should reach a stage where, as I am ready to write, the piece makes good and rapid progress.
20 August 2014
In my listening, this week I am at last returning to (and listening to the differences among three recordings of) Karl Amadeus Hartmann's First Symphony (Versuch eines Requiems). Perhaps part of the reason is, here I am proposing to set some Whitman (again), myself.
That is not the funny story.
I have a CD player which also serves as an alarm; and for quite a long time now, I have enjoyed waking up, not to a harsh, persistent, repeated alarm tone (well, the tone on this player is not the worst I have known, but the point remains) but, gently, gradually, to strains of music.
One can adjust the volume and the track number . . . I have swapped in and out a few CDs since, so I forget just which track of what disc was the one I selected, but I have left it at that track number for (let's say) three other discs.
The disc presently in the player, to which I was listening (or, "listening," after a time) while waiting for sleep to enfold me, is the Botstein/London Phil recording of the Hartmann First (so far as I know, the only CD on which the Hartmann tone-poem Miserae is presently available). So, as it happened, what woke me was, we might say, almost the least alarming music possible, very soft strokes on a timpani, almost imperceptibly soft. And, as I was well rested, that was all I needed.
15 August 2014
It's not the piece which I need to finish by or about the beginning of September, but it is a piece which a friend may be apt to read soon. When I cracked open the notebook on the bus this morning, I started sketching a short bagatelle of a trio. There will have to be a set, but I shall only write this first one now, and then get to the choral setting.
13 August 2014
Finished the Op.121 in something of a blur, or, enough of a blur, that I wanted to sleep on it, and decide whether it was really done, or whether it needed anything, when I was well rested.
Op.121 was originally going to be an unaccompanied clarinet piece (The Tower Room Is Empty) for the Bill Goodwin Memorial Concert. However, I decided to write the brass trio, Le tombeau de W.A.G., instead. At first, it was in addition to, rather than instead of; but as the concert was filling up with items, I decided to go with the brass trio, not least because it was finished first.
By no means do I suffer any delusion that, when I have written music down, it is too precious to discard; in the present case, I did not think it right to abandon sketches for a piece in memory of a departed friend. I always meant to put that music to use; and in fact, very soon re-purposed it for "the new Op.121," ... illa existimans quia hortulanus esset .... for cello and piano.
10 August 2014
That done, I returned yesterday evening to the vc/pf piece I had started for Kirstin back in April, ... illa existimans quia hortulanus esset ... (...thinking him to be the gardener...)
Last night, I managed to write the ending, but the piece had not quite made its way there, so I needed to insert a paragraph. The rapid progress was a result, first, of (essentially) improvising a 16-measure [that figure makes it sound symmetrical and regular, but it is not] contrasting period; second, of at last bringing into this piece sketches I had made for the (abandoned) unaccompanied clarinet memorial for Bill Goodwin (I think I may make note of that somehow in the score — in all events, the material works better with sparse piano commentary as light accompaniment); third, a varied recapitulation of sorts, which I drew up while (ahem) finding myself unwilling to devote my full attention to a Harry Partch piece. At the end of the day, I felt I could probably wrap it up this morning.
. . . and I think I may have. I shall let the piece cure overnight, and see tomorrow if there really is any serious alteration required.
04 August 2014
03 August 2014
Now that my notebook has come home (!) I could survey the electronic file situation. From my White Nights work, I knew that I might not have Sibelius files for either trio. To my surprise, I did find a Sibelius file for both, but the score for Crocodiles was only a start.
So far today, I've worked a bit on furthering the lachrymose reptiles, and then took a break because I found I had a complete Sibelius file for Mirage, and it was just as easy as I expected, to prepare the arrangement for that piece.
02 August 2014
Hopes for a première of The Mystic Trumpeter remain alive and well, and I am fantasizing additionally about a second performance in November, down south a ways.
Word is in that a fine pianist will be on board for the 11 November concert, so I am thinking (and without the notebook, it can only be thinking, today) of arranging both Night of the Weeping Crocodiles (not one of the White Nights) and Mirage for cl/pf/prc.