Music of Hale Smith, Sheila Silver & Joel Hoffman

CR 590 Hale Smith * Sheila Silver * Joel Hoffman

American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Composers Award Recording

This recording was made possible by grants from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Four awards, which include a CRI recording, are given annually to honor and encourage composers and to help them continue their creative work. The composers Hales Smith, Sheila Silver and Joel Hoffman were recipients of awards in 1988, 1986 and 1987, respectively.

INNERFLEXIONS was composed as the finale to a series of concerts by the New York Philharmonic celebrating Black American music and at the request of the late Dr. Leon Thompson, the orchestra's Director of Educational Projects.

It was written between June 27 and August 3, 1977 and has had numerous subsequent performances in the U.S., South America, and Europe.

I frequently choose titles that reflect the inner structure or focus of my music, and Innerflexions is no exception. The reshaping (bending, or “flexion”) of motives at every level (melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and orchestral) contributes to the impressions of unity, flexibility, and expansiveness remarked upon by many listeners.

Innerflexions has also been perceived as having both philosophical and emotional meanings by various listeners. I consider such responses to be interesting, legitimate, and welcome - though not required for an appreciation of the music. - Hale Smith

HALE SMITH began studying piano at the age of seven; during his high school years he performed in both concert and jazz groups. After serving in the army he attended the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1958 he moved to New York, where he worked as a music editor for several publishers, arranged for jazz groups, taught in local colleges, and also composed. In 1970 he became a professor at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, from which he retried in 1984. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Music Center (1981-3). His honors include an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Black Music Caucus of the Music Educators National Conference (1982).

Smith prefers to compose in traditional forms, within which he uses contemporary techniques freely, often referring to serialism and almost always infusing the whole with subtle jazz inflections. His larger works such as Contours (commissioned in 1960 for BMI's 20th anniversary celebration) and Expansions (1967) display masterly orchestration and a predilection for contrasting sonorities and development of motivic ideas. His songs have a poignant lyricism and his piano writing is idiomatic and direct. His song “The Valley Wind” is on CRI CAS301 and In Memoriam-Beryl Rubenstein for chorus and chamber orchestra on CRI SD 182 with Robert Shaw conducting.

My SONATA FOR CELLO AND PIANO was written for Timothy Eddy and Gilbert Kalish who premiered it at Town Hall in December, 1988. The three movements, fast-slow-fast, are structurally in the tradition of the classical sonata. The challenge for me was to create within this older form a freshness stemming from my personal (and late 20th century) musical perspective.

In the first movement, “Light and flowing,” the opening theme flows in groups of quickly moving sixteenth notes. Throughout the movement, the speed of the sixteenths remain fairly constant, but the beat changes as these notes are constantly regrouped (in 4's, 5's and 6's in particular).

The second movement is especially close to my heart - it is a Theme and Variations whose theme is a melody I wrote for the traditional Sabbath prayer, Sholom Aleichem. The melody was originally written to be sung a cappella. When I decided to use it for my Theme and Variations I did not want to accompany it with the modal harmonies implied by the tune itself for this seemed to belittle its melodic “essence.” The composing of this movement presented the challenge of wedding a distinctly modal ethnic melody with my own harmonic language. The Variations are, in the Beethovian sense, accumulative: elements introduced into one variation becomes material for use in subsequent variations.

The third movement, “Lively, rhythmic, and playfully,” is dance-like and playful with a “swing” beat in cut-time. In contrast to the second movement, this movement is distinctly influenced by more popular forms of American music and reflects in particular my love for American composers such as Aaron Copland and George Gershwin.

  • Sheila Silver

“SHEILA SILVER is a creative dynamo…Her music is vital, with a conviction that obliterates fashion and speaks its own language.” So wrote the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in awarding her the 1986 Composer Award. Other awards and honors include the Prix de Paris, the Prix de Rome, a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, and a Koussevitzky Fellowship. She is also two-time winner of the ISCM's National Composers' Competition and winner of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Competition.

Sheila Silver has composed a substantial body of concert and choral works as well as a full length opera, The Thief of Love. Her works have been commissioned and performed by the RAI Orchestra of Rome, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Seattle Philharmonic, Speculum Musicae, the Gregg Smith Singers, and the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Silver received a B.A. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D in composition and theory from Brandeis University. She is an Associate Professor of Music at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Her String Quartet is available on CRI SD 520 and her Canto, a setting of Ezra Pound's Canto XXXIX for baritone and chamber ensemble, is available on a compact disc recently released by Mode Records (CD 23).

The DUO FOR VIOLA AND PIANO was composed in 1983, and was first performed in 1984 by my brother Toby Hoffman and myself in Sea Cliff, New York as part of the Sea Cliff Chamber Players series. Though it has since been performed by other musicians in Europe and in the U.S., it was conceived with the original performers in mind. This naturally shaped the character of both the details and the underlying structure of the work. The two instrumental parts are always collaborating with each other, yet each has its own unmistakable voice. For much of the piece, there is a running dialogue between the two. One of the main subjects of conversation is the question of who is leader and who is follower. Ultimately, however, the issue is dissolved during the last stage of the work, during which the greatest degree of unanimity is achieved.

The preceding works are certainly not meant as a specific guide to the listener. They merely reflect my thoughts during the theme the pieces was composed. In fact, it is always hoped that each listening experience will be unique and unexpected. For this reason, some elements of the piece are not meant to be perceived immediately upon first hearing, but will hopefully emerge and produce ever-more-significant meaning in the composition on subsequent hearings. Toward this end, the following works briefly describe the basic structure of the Duo:

There are essentially two musical ideas in the piece which follow from beginning to end, each interleaved with the other; A0B-A1-B1-A2-B2 and so on. One way in which this patter can be clearly heard is by observing that the “A” music begins at a fast tempo and, with each re-entry, gets progressively slower. By contrast, the “B” music begins slowly and speeds up with successive entries. In the piece's mid-section, the juncture points between “A” music and “B” music are far less obvious than in the outer sections, since the tempi are much more closely aligned. But in terms of musical material, “A” and “B” are always quite separate from each other. In effect, the piece could be described as a pair of interwoven variation movements.

  • Joel Hoffman

JOEL HOFFMAN's music has been performed in the U.S., Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Central America. He has received a number of awards and fellowships from institutions including the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Fromm Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council. He has been a resident composer at the MacDowell Colony, the Camargo Foundation, the Hindemith Foundation and the Yaddo. Hoffman has been commissioned by the Tanglewood Festival, the Eastman School of Music, the American Harp Society and the Hancock Chamber Players. As he demonstrates on this recording, he is also an accomplished pianist, having performed a significant number of works from the chamber, solo and concerto repertoire. Hoffman is currently Professor of Composition at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music.

Founded just after World War II, the SLOVENIC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA functions primarily as the orchestra for radio and television in Slovenia, which is a northern province of Yugoslavia. Under the leadership of Music Director and Conductor, ANTON NANUT, the orchestra has made over 30 recordings for the Stradivari recording label. This recording marks the orchestra's debut on CRI.

TIMOTHY EDDY and GILBERT KALISH presented their first duo program together in 1973 and have performed together ever since. This compact disc release marks the musicians' recording debut as a duo. Individually, both musicians have earned distinction as soloists and recording artists. A former student of Bernard Greenhouse, Mr. Eddy is currently Professor of Music at SUNY, Stony Brook. Mr. Kalish, on the faculty of SUNY, Stony Brook, since 1970, has also served as Director of Keyboards at Tangewood's Berkshire Music Center since 1968. Well known for his dedication to contemporary music, Mr. Kalish has garnered 3 Grammy Award nominations.

Violist TOBY HOFFMAN enjoys a distinguished international performing career as both soloist and chamber musician. In 1990, Mr. Hoffman completed an extensive recording project of Mozart works for both video and compact disc with Salvatore Accardo. His festival appearances include Ravinia, Aspen, Marlboro, Kuhmo, Festivale di Napoli and Cremona. Mr. Hoffman plays on a 1628 Antonio and Hieronymus Amati viola made in Cremona, Italy which formerly belonged to Queen Victoria of England.

INNERFLEXIONS Executive Producer: Paul Freeman. Recorded at Cankarjiz Hall in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia on September 3, 1990. Enginners: A Dezman and R. Cedilink. Published by Merion Music (BMI).

SONATA FOR CELLO AND PIANO Produced by Tim Martyn. Recorded at Merkin Hall, NYC, in October, 1989. Engineer: Rob Rapley. Published by Argenta Music (ASCAP).

DUO FOR VIOLA AND PIANO Produced by Judith Sherman. Recorded at the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Lettes, NYC on January 19, 1990. Rights held by composer (ASCAP).

Mastered by Francis X. Pierce at Sony Classical Productions, Inc. NYC

Art Direction and Production: Brian Conley.

Graphic and Cover Design: Bernard Hallstein.

Painting on cover by Sheila Silver.

Special thanks to: Paul Freeman, Mike Abercrombie of Sony Classical Productions, Inc. NYC


  1. INNERFLEXIONS for orchestra (1977) (13:54)

Slovenic Symphony Orchestra

Anton Nanut, conductor


SONATA for cello and piano (1988) (27:54)

  1. I - Light and flowing (6:13)

  2. II - Theme and Variations: Semplice e cantabile (13:33)

  3. III - Lively, rhythmic, and playfully (7:58)

Timothy Eddy, cello

Gilbert Kalish, piano


  1. Duo for Viola and Piano (1983) (14:45)

Toby Hoffman, viola

Joel Hoffman, piano