Impetuosities: Music of Joshua Rosenblum


with solo performances by

Philip Smith, trumpet

Kathleen Nester, flute

Daniel Culpepper, horn

Marilyn Gibson, violin

Joanne Lessner, soprano

Chris Thompson, baritone

JOSHUA ROSENBLUM is a composer, pianist and conductor with wide-ranging experience in classical, contemporary and theater music.

He is the composer and co-lyricist of the cult hit musical Fermat's Last Tango, which enjoyed a successful Off-Broadway run at the York Theatre, as well as the forthcoming musical Einstein's Dreams, based on the best-selling novel by Alan Lightman. Equally comfortable in the contemporary classical idiom, he has written numerous pieces on commission for orchestras, bands, chamber ensembles and solo musicians, some of which are included in this collection. He has received awards from ASCAP and Meet the Composer, and his choral setting of “Jabberwocky” won the Ithaca College Choral Composition Contest, out of 200 entries nationwide.

Rosenblum has conducted ten Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, including Miss Saigon, The Music Man, Anything Goes and Falsettos, and has appeared as pianist with the New York Pops, the New York Chamber Symphony, and the American Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he and his wife, soprano Joanne Lessner, have concertized extensively in recitals of art songs, cabaret songs, and Rosenblum's original compositions. He is also highly sought after as an exponent of experimental, innovative, and unusual works of new music theater, and has worked closely with such prominent young composers as Stewart Wallace, Elliot Goldenthal, Robert Lindsey Nassif, Michael John LaChiusa and Ricky Ian Gordon. Other conducting credits include guest appearances with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the American Repertory Ballet, and the soundtracks to four major motion pictures. Also a music journalist, he has written articles for Newsday and Stagebill, and over 150 reviews for Opera News. Rosenblum is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale College and the Yale School of Music. He and his wife live in New York City with their children, Julian and Phoebe.

Composer's Notes

Impetuosities was written on commission for Philip Smith, the renowned principal trumpeter of the New York Philharmonic. Phil had heard Dan Culpepper playing my Three Episodes for horn and piano at the Harmony Ridge Music Festival, and decided he would like to have a piece of mine for himself. He gave me very few guidelines, other than to say that he “wasn't really an avant-garde guy.” That was okay—neither am I. I am, however, very grateful to Phil for the opportunity to write this piece, and to Dan for his marvelous performance of the Three Episodes, on that occasion and on this recording. Further gratitude to Dan for putting up with sitting next to me for a large chunk of the nineties in the orchestra pit of Miss Saigon on Broadway.

Variations for Trio is the second piece I've written for The Herrick Trio. Violinist Marilyn Gibson, whom I've known since the beginning of my professional life, commissioned both the Variations and Six Little Pieces, my first composition for her group. Both of these works are composed of several short movements, many of them under a minute. I like to think of them as pieces for people with short attention spans.

Marilyn also commissioned a short solo piece from me, which she suggested might be based on the Mozart Concerto in A, a piece she has loved since childhood. The piece was to figure prominently in a benefit evening for The Lupus Foundation, an organization which has meant a lot to Marilyn because of her (fortunately successful) struggles with the disease. I always think of my college buddy Craig Pepples, who once wryly remarked that he had never liked a piece for solo instrument by anyone except Bach. Mindful of Craig's admonition, I wasn't sure if this piece belonged in this collection, but Marilyn's beautiful performance of what I call Marilyn's Solo convinced me.

This collection of four Thomas Hardy songs was compiled from among several of his poems I have set to music over the years. Hardy is best known as a novelist, but he devoted the final thirty years of his life entirely to poetry. “In the Room of the Bride-Elect” is typical of the enjoyably mordant wit and skewering of mortal frailty which can found in the marvelous set of poems called Satires of Circumstance. “In the Moonlight” represents a different kind of verse from the same collection—acutely poignant, with equally keen insight into the human heart. The enduringly haunting “The Last Performance,” which calls out for a musical setting from its opening line, comes from Moments of Vision. And the succinctly epic, transformatively descriptive “The Darkling Thrush,” dated 31 December, 1900, seems as perfect a poetic anticipation of the twentieth century as one could imagine. It's also one of my wife's favorite poems.

Flash Variations was a commission from my good friend and revered colleague, flutist Kathleen Nester. I was intrigued by the idea of variations on a theme that, instead of following each other one after another in an orderly fashion as usual, would intrude, collide, interrupt, and play off of one another, creating more of a kaleidoscope than a series of movements. While writing the piece, I also tried to bear in mind that Kathleen really likes tangos.

Tall Tales, for horn quartet, was commissioned by Jean Martin for the International Horn Society's 31st Annual Symposium, which she hosted at the University of Georgia in Athens where she is on the faculty. I had the privilege of hearing the world premiere of this piece in the company of 400 horn players in the University's Hodgson Hall. Astute listeners will notice that some of these short movements share thematic material with other pieces in this collection. Two of my Thomas Hardy settings (“In the Moonlight” and “The Last Performance”) ultimately became movements of Tall Tales. Additionally, the first movement of Tall Tales wound up as the theme of the Variations for Trio.

A Whole Family Sitting in a Tree is a cycle of songs whose texts were written by my son Julian when he was three. I followed him around with a piece of paper (and, on one conspicuous occasion, an envelope) and asked him to tell me stories. Then I took some of the choicest utterances and set them to music. All the lyrics are exactly as they came out of his mouth, with no editing by the composer. Only in the last song, “Paper Clips,” did I take the liberty of arranging the words so they loosely followed rondo-allegro form.


Texts by Julian Rosenblum, age 3

1. Sitting in a Tree

Mommy and Daddy and Julian

were sitting in a tree,

eating and coloring

a big purple and green and brown balloon

and a heart.

And then the whole sentence broke and cracked

and then it made new words.

And they didn't crack it together.

2. Bubbles in a Show

Why are bubbles in a show?

Because their hands play instruments.

They sound like violins.

3. The Artist

The artist is crying.

Outside, the artist is crying.

The artist is crying because he lost his moon sack.

He likes it so much

and he lost it.

4. Family Dinner

Mommy and Daddy and Julian eating dinner.

Nothing broke.

I know that nothing broke, because nobody broke it.

5. Paper Clips

I'm in my box.

This is Julian's box.

It's made of cardboard so you can spill juice on it,

or water, or milk.

I think you can spill fruit on it, too.

Red paper clips and yellow paper clips and brown paper clips and orange,

brown paper clips and white paper clips and silver paper clips and gold.

White paper clips and black paper clips and green paper clips and silver,

Push pins are fun!

I'm in my box.

You can't take it out back,

because then where would I go?

The box won't be here so you can't take it out back.

Besides, it's too big to go out back.

Red paper clips and yellow paper clips and brown paper clips and orange,

brown paper clips and white paper clips and silver paper clips and gold.

Big tree, little tree, bean and a pea, and a peanut and pistachio,

Are you clear on this? Flip back!

I like that it has that little square over there.

That's the part I like.

This is so if you have something you just

open this window and throw it out.

That way you don't have to get out.

Just throw it out.

Every kid does this, goes in a box.

Write THAT down on your envelope!

Red paper clips and yellow paper clips and brown paper clips and orange,

brown paper clips and white paper clips and silver paper clips and gold.

A white balloon with black and white stripes and then my favorite cookie comes,

Dungaroo skidoo.

Dot com!

All I can think of are cookies!

All I can think of are cookies, because that's what three-year-olds do!

Write that down on your envelope!

The King's Pyjamas and Forward March are both pieces which I wrote for a terrific wind ensemble called Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, a group formed by Ted Allen and Arlo McKinnon, friends of mine from the Yale School of Music. The idea was a sort of post-modern town band, a group that would play new, challenging music that was groove-based. “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine” is the title of a Sousa March—an homage to the Masons—which became our theme song. I'm reprinting Ted's liner notes (co-written with Deniz Hughes) from the band's debut CD Frantic Antics (Newport Classic NPD 85644), because I think they best describe these pieces:

“In these compositions, Rosenblum borrows traditional forms and filters them back to us through his contemporary sensibility, providing odd meters, tricky melodic fragments and continuous instrumental variety. Forward March, which brings a Kurt Weill flavor to Sousa, was adapted from a suite Josh wrote for full concert band. The King's Pyjamas is a slightly off-kilter tarantella with echoes of Prokofieff, Bernstein, and Ravel. Like Nobles itself, these compositions deftly straddle the line between the intimate give-and-take of chamber music and big orchestral statement.”

—Joshua Rosenblum


The works on this album were a revelation to me, though Josh and I have known each other since the late 1970s, and I am intimately familiar with his work for the musical theater. I was certainly aware of the other side of his composing career but had somehow managed to pigeonhole it, quite unfairly, as “academic music” to the point where, had I wandered into Merkin Hall on a Monday in May to hear Phil Smith and Joe Turrin recording Impetuosities, I would have asked Josh what he was doing there.

My mistake!

While I may have approached this project more out of sense of cultural rectitude — to promote the music of young American composers, to encourage composers who embrace both the musical theater and “contemporary classical” worlds, to champion a fellow Eli — while my motives may have been pure, they are surely tainted now: I just love these pieces.

—Tim Peierls

DANIEL CULPEPPER is an active freelance horn player in New York City. He performs regularly with the New York City Ballet, New York Pops, Little Orchestra Society, and at Radio City Music Hall. His diverse and eclectic career has also included performances and recordings with Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Joshua Bell, James Taylor, Pavarotti, Sting and Yo-Yo Ma, among others. He tours and records frequently with the Borealis Wind Quintet. Other recording credits include numerous film scores, radio and TV commercials, as well as the themes for Monday Night Football, ESPN Sportcenter and the past four Superbowls. Television appearances include “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Good Morning America.” On Broadway, he has been a member of the orchestras for Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, and is currently principal hornist for Phantom of the Opera.

MARILYN GIBSON, violinist, received her Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was the concertmaster of the Manhattan Orchestra, and her Bachelor of Music from East Carolina University, where she graduated magna cum laude as a member of Phi Kappa Phi. She is the founder and leader of The Herrick Trio, and has performed as concertmaster with Continuum, the St. Cecelia Orchestra, the Westchester Opera, Opera Northeast, and the Glimmerglass Opera. Marilyn has also played with, among others, the Iceland Symphony, the Colorado Music Festival, the Opera Orchestra of New York, the Queens Symphony Orchestra, the American Ballet Theater, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Westfield Symphony and the New Jersey Philharmonic as well as in several Broadway and off-Broadway pit orchestras. She has appeared as concerto soloist with the North Shore Orchestra, the C. W. Post Orchestra, and Continuum. Contemporary music associations have included the Group for Contemporary Music, Musical Elements, Newband, and North-South Consonance. Marilyn's memoir, Hanging by a String, is now available at her website, She has also written Soul Songs, a book of poetry and The Light Messengers: Summoning Michael, a science fiction novel.

THE HERRICK TRIO, which includes founder/violinist Marilyn Gibson, cellist Daryl Goldberg and pianist Joan Stein, is based in Teaneck and performs regularly in the New York area. They have performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the priceless Stradivarius Collection and on WNYC's live music program, Around New York. They have been praised in Strad Magazine for “bringing out the contrasting styles of Joshua Rosenblum's Six Little Pieces and giving a new dimension to Haydn's `Gypsy' Trio.” Awards include two Meet the Composer grants for works they commissioned. This season they were featured in an all-American program commemorating the 9/11 tragedy on the television show No Limits. In championing new music as well as breathing new life into standard Romantic masterpieces, they have developed a reputation for combining the excitement of the new with the satisfaction of the classic.

JOANNE LESSNER's performing experience spans an unusually diverse collection of repertoire. She has appeared on Broadway in Cyrano: The Musical, on opera stages as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Brandenburg Opera), Mabel in Pirates of Penzance (Skylight Opera Theatre) and Mascha in Der Zarewitsch (Liederkranz Opera). Her favorite musical theater roles include Trina in Falsettos, Anne in A Little Night Music and, most recently, Paquette in Candide. Straight dramatic roles include Constanze in Amadeus, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Alais in The Lion in Winter. Ms. Lessner has also been featured as a soloist with The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, the Albany Symphony, and the acclaimed New York Festival of Song. With her husband Joshua Rosenblum at the piano, she performed the role of Cis in the cabaret version of William Bolcom's Casino Paradise at The Ballroom in New York City, which The New York Times cited as “one of the year's ten best events in classical music.” åAn accomplished writer, Ms. Lessner's play Crossing Lines was an alternate for the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference, and she is a frequent contributor of CD reviews and features to Opera News. Lessner and Rosenblum have also collaborated in the writing of several musicals, including Fermat's Last Tango and Einstein's Dreams, based on the novel by Alan Lightman. She holds a B.A. in Music, summa cum laude, from Yale University.

KATHLEEN NESTER is second flutist/piccoloist with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, as well as a regular member of the Stamford Symphony, Solisti New York, and the new music ensemble Musicians' Accord. She has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and with numerous Broadway show orchestras. Ms. Nester is also in demand as concerto soloist with orchestras in the US and Japan. She made her Weill Recital Hall debut as a winner of the Artists' International Young Artists Competition. Her forthcoming solo CD will feature new works for flute and piano which she has commissioned from prominent contemporary composers.

THE SHUBERT ALLEY HORNS have a short but distinguished history. Dan Culpepper, Katie Dennis, Patrick Milando and Russ Rizner—all distinguished New York City freelancers—founded the Shubert Alley Horns on November 19, 2001 at 11:00 a.m. in order to record Josh Rosenblum's Tall Tales. These four veteran professionals had been given their music weeks prior to the session but felt compelled to honor the founding tenet of all freelancers and sight-read what was placed before them. Word immediately spread of this amazing feat and S.A.H. was quickly beset with many of the problems associated with fame (especially among horn quartets): namely, groupies, substance abuse, and security issues. These difficulties soon became insurmountable and, to the everlasting dismay of their legions of fans, the Shubert Alley Horns disbanded at 2:00 p.m. on November 19, 2001.

PHILIP SMITH joined the New York Philharmonic as Co-Principal Trumpet in October 1978, and became Principal Trumpet in June 1988. His early training was provided at The Salvation Army, and continued under the training of his father, Derek Smith. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, having studied with Edward Treutel and William Vacchiano. In January 1975, while still at Juilliard, Mr. Smith was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti.

Mr. Smith has appeared regularly as soloist, recitalist, chamber orchestra performer, and clinician. He has been featured as a soloist with the Philharmonic in more than 75 performances under such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Erich Leinsdorf, Leonard Bernstein, and Neeme Jarvi. Highlights have included the world premiere of Joseph Turrin's Trumpet Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, the U.S. premiere of Jacques Hetu's Concerto, and the May 2000 world premiere of Lowell Liebermann's Concerto. In addition to Philharmonic appearances, he has performed as guest soloist with numerous other symphony orchestras, symphonic wind ensembles and brass bands.

Mr. Smith has recorded with the Canadian Brass, the Empire Brass, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart Orchestra, Bargemusic, and New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony. Solo recordings include Copland's Quiet City (Deutsche Grammophon), New York Legends (CALA Records), Orchestral Excerpts for Trumpet (Summit Records), Ellen Taffe Zwilich's Concerto for Trumpet and Five Instruments (New World Records), Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (Koch Records), Walton's Façade (Arabesque Records), My Song of Songs with The Salvation Army New York Staff Band, and The Trumpet Shall Resound and Repeat the Sounding Joy (Heritage Records/Resounding Praise).

Mr. Smith is on the faculty at The Juilliard School. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Sheila and teaches Bible study at the Montclair Salvation Army.

CHRIS THOMPSON, baritone, has appeared in roles ranging from Figaro in The Barber of Seville to Danilo in The Merry Widow to the title role in a staged production of Elijah, with such companies as Lyric Opera of San Diego, Nine Circles Chamber Theatre, Utah Festival Opera, Rimrock Opera, and Rogue Opera. He has created the roles of Isaiah Berlin in Guest from the Future, Rabbi Dr. Sandy Lincoln in The Scrimshaw Violin, Box in Box and Cox, Male Chorus in Hester Prynne at Death, and Daniel Keane in the Off-Broadway musical Fermat's Last Tango. Chris makes his home in New York where he sings with the choir of St. Jean Baptiste, the Virgin Consort, the New York Virtuoso Singers, and is a founding member of the Quinn Players.

JOSEPH TURRIN is a greatly valued contributor to contemporary American musical life thanks to his wide-ranging activities as a composer, orchestrator, conductor, pianist, and teacher. Among his many commissioned works, highlights include Hemispheres commissioned for Kurt Masur's final concert with the New York Philharmonic, his concertos for flute and for trumpet (the latter commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for Philip Smith, its principal trumpet, and conducted by Erich Leinsdorf), the chamber work Riffs and Fanfares (The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), and numerous film scores. In addition to the Trumpet Concerto (which Kurt Masur has also led with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig), the Philharmonic commissioned Two Gershwin Portraits (premiered with trumpet soloists Wynton Marsalis and Philip Smith) and Jazzalogue No. 1 (featured on the Orchestra's 1997 Latin American tour). His Fandango was performed on Live From Lincoln Center in July, 2002 by Masur and the NY Philharmonic and hosted by Beverly Sills. Turrin has appeared as a conductor with the Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, and New Jersey Symphonies; he has performed as a pianist on many recordings and as orchestral pianist for the New Jersey Symphony.

Recording produced by Tim Peierls.

Recorded and edited at Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, Danny Lawrence, engineer, Dan Hopler and Mike Rucci, assistant engineers.

Impetuosities recorded at Merkin Concert Hall, engineered, edited, and mixed by Wayne Hileman.

Tall Tales recorded at Manhattan Beach Studios, edited and mixed by Wayne Hileman.

A Whole Family recorded by Sean Swinney, 244 W. 72nd St., NYC.

Forward March and The King's Pyjamas recorded at Sound on Sound Studios, NYC, produced by Arlo McKinnon, engineered by Gregory Squires (Forward March) and Larry Franke (King's Pyjamas).

Final editing, mixing, and mastering by Tim Peierls in Flower Hill, New York.

These recordings of The King's Pyjamas and Forward March by the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine wind band appeared originally on the Newport Classic CD Frantic Antics (NPD 85644), the debut recording of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. They are used here with the kind permission of Larry Kraman and Newport Classic, Ltd. Further information about Frantic Antics and Newport Classic can be obtained via email at

Special Thanks to Rich Miller, Ted Allen, Deniz Hughes, Rick Henly, Kim Russ, Ilene Friedman, David Lichtenstein, and Paul Christmann.

Nobles of the Mystic Shrine Wind Band:

Yuri Ito, flute, piccolo

Dale Kleps, alto sax, clarinet

Tom Olin, tenor sax, clarinet (King's Pyjamas)

Scott Shachter, tenor sax, clarinet (Forward March)

Tracy Turner, horn

Wade Weast, trumpet

Mark Patterson, trombone

Bruce Lazier, trombone (Forward March)

Nathan Durham, trombone (King's Pyjamas)

Raymond Stewart, tuba

Chris Hughes, drums