for piano solo, about 8:00 minutes
premiere at Fordham University
New York City
Lawrence Kramer, editor of the journal 19th-Century Music, asked me to contribute a solo piano piece for a two-day conference in New York City called “Counterpoints: Nineteenth-Century Music and Literature,” to be held in October, 2011.
A summary of of the conference’s goals:
The topics may range as widely as the contributors’ imagination can compass. Possibilities include, but are by no means limited to, portrayals of music or musicians in nineteenth-century literary works, musical representations in nineteenth-century music of literary genres, characters, or texts, literary opera, incidental music, aesthetic theories, models of performance, treatments of nineteenth-century music in twentieth– and twenty-first-century literature and film, treatments of nineteenth-century literature in twentieth-and twenty-first-century music, including opera and film music, and the list goes on.
I chose to write a musical representation of Edmond Dantes from the classic Dumas novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. The opening theme is intended to be heroic in the Romantic tradition. A central idea of the hero myth is that the character responds to a call to adventure, departs from home and experiences many new and challenging experiences. These trials serve to transform the hero before a return home, and this is the general idea behind the Dantes Variations.
A key difference from other examples of the form is that I decided to borrow from many musical styles to set the variations. As well, I thought to organize the material in a backwards fashion, so that the first variation to the last works chronologically back in time, returning at last to the transformed opening theme. A command of many different styles, from hard-driving rock to rubato Chopin, will aid the performer in the execution of this piece.
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