Speculum Musicae: Music of Sanford, Rosenzweig, Moe

Chamber Concerto No. 3 was written for and dedicated to Speculum Musicae and was completed in April of 1992. Like my two previous concerti, there is a primary soloist, although other players are featured at various moments. Here, as in my first concerto, the primary soloist is the clarinet-the objective being to utilize the talents of Allen Blustine.

This work is also a continuation of musical and personal ideas explored in Chamber Concertos Nos. 1 and 2. While all three pieces have Schumann's Manfried as an influence, No. 3 returns to some of the literal quotations used in Canto. It also involves the jazz aesthetic of No. 2 without employing the standard rhythm section and improvisation from that composition. At its core are concerns developed by Charles Mingus and Jack Walrath on the album Me, Myself an Eye released by Atlantic Records in 1978.

-David Sanford

DAVID SANFORD holds Master degrees in composition and theory from the New England Conservatory and a Master of Fine Arts in Composition from Princeton University where he is pursuing his Doctorate. His teachers include Pozzi Escot, Arthur Berger, Claudio Spies and Steven Mackey.

Mr. Sanford has received commissions from a diverse list of performance ensembles and musicians including Xylophonia, the Princeton University Chamber Orchestra and Chapel Choir, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, cellist Andre Emilianoff, the Bachmann-Fridman-Klibonoff Trio and Speculum Musicae. His works have been performed by ensembles including the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. His honors include: a 1989 BMI Student Composers Award; Canto-chosen for the 1990 African-American Composers Forum hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; a 1991 Guggenheim Fellowship; a 1992 ASCAP Grant to Young Composers and a season as Composer in Residence with Concert Artists Guild (1993-1994).

Funding for the composition of Chamber Concerto No. 3 was provided by the Guggenheim Foundation.

Delta, the Perfect King, begun in 1986 and completed in 1989, is based on real, mythical and imaginary episodes from the short life of Robert Johnson (1911-1938), King of the Delta Blues Singers. There is, however, no particularly straight-lined tale telling here in the Straussian sense, as these life episodes have been shifted, expanded, contracted, crisscrossed and flexibly molded into a sort of music-cartoon.

I first heard Robert Johnson's anciently-recorded voice in 1967. I thought then, and do now, that it sounded like a horn. While I was inspired by Johnson's musical spirit in this work, I have avoided intentionally using any of his music directly. His personage is represented through the sound of the horn.

The piece is in one movement consisting of several sections: a long introduction, an interlude, a scherzo, a short aria, a passage for the strings, and a multi-part finale whose ending is reminiscent of the work's beginning.

the tale begins

Delta appears; shift to.....

a walking scene

images from actual R.J. texts made

into music metaphors

Delta sleeps

Delta dreams (I thought of

Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy here,

only Delta is the Gypsy, and the

animal is not a lion;)

Delta's sleep is disturbed

Delta's dreams turn to the under

world and Pluta, the devil

Scherzo; Delta dances with Pluta at

length; she is a good dancer and

wants more from Delta than


Delta sings; he thinks he has

achieved redemption

Commentary on Delta's death

Delta understands that he is dying

Delta dies

Delta decides not to die and seeks

Pluta for the purpose of renegotiation

Pluta's Bacchantes tear Delta's flesh

Delta finds the note needed to over-power them

Delta regains his original state; he is

trying to be nonchalant

mandatory cadenza preceding final

cadence; this is an anti-cadenza;

Delta mechanically practices a

string of spoken lines.

Delta disappears down a dusty road.

-Morris Rosenzwieg

MORRIS ROSENZWEIG received his professional training at the Eastman School of music, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. His works have been performed by many noted ensembles and soloists, including Philippe Entremont with the New Orleans Symphony, Joseph Silverstein with the Utah Symphony, the Emerson Quartet, violist Lawrence Dutton, the Leonardo Trio, EARPLAY, and Speculum Musicae. Formerly on the faculty at New York University, he currently teaches at the University of Utah where in addition to other duties he directs the university's new music ensemble, Canyonlands. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the composers Conference, and has been awarded the McCurdy, Nietche, Rappoport and the International Horn Society's prizes in composition. Rosenzwieg conducts the Chamber Players of the League-ISCM in New York and serves as guest conductor with many other ensembles.

Kicking and Screaming is a concerto for piano and a pocket orchestra of ten instruments. The relationship between piano and orchestra throughout is considerably thornier than it is in most classical concerti. From the beginning, the piano and the rest of the ensemble are on different rhythmic wavelengths: in general, the piano favors duple subdivisions, while the ensemble favors triplet subdivisions. The piano does occasionally drag an unwilling instrument (kicking and screaming?) into its rhythmic orbit, and in turn is sometimes persuaded to cooperate with the group. For the most part, however, piano and ensemble go their separate ways, with moments of uneasy compromise and collaboration.

The opposition is continued in a different way in the lyrical second movement; in the final movement, linked to the second and sharing melodic material with it, the piano finally succeeds in persuading the ensemble to join it in a rhythmic field containing both duple and triple elements.

Kicking and Screaming was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation and is dedicated to pianist Aleck Karis. Most of the outer movements were written at the MacDowell Colony during residencies in 1993 and 1994; the interior movement was composed primarily at the Rockefeller Foundation's International Study and Conference Center in Bellagio in 1993. Additional support for its composition from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is gratefully acknowledged.

-Eric Moe

ERIC MOE, composer and pianist, has received numerous grants and awards for composition, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, commissions from the Fromm Foundation and the Koussevitzky Foundation, fellowships from the Wellesly Composer's Conference and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Bellagio, and the American Dance Festival. Flyers for concerts involving his music have been attached to refrigerators throughout North America; compact disc recordings are available Centaur and now from CRI.

As a pianist and a keyboard player, he has received acclaim for his performances of new music in Rome, New York, Pittsburgh, Boston and San Francisco. A recording with violinist/composer Roger Zahab of the music of John Cage and Zahab has recently been released by Koch International. He was a founding member of the San Francisco-based EARPLAY ensemble and currently directs the Music on the Edge new music concert series in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Moe was educated at the University of California at Berkeley (M.A., Ph.D.) and at Princeton University (A.B.), has held teaching positions at San Francisco State University and U.C. Santa Cruz, and is currently Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh, where he directs the graduate program in composition and the department's electro-acoustic music studio.

For over twenty years, SPECULUM MUSICAE has been presenting definitive performances of the innovative and diverse chamber music repertoire of the 20th Century. Its mission is three-fold: to preserve and represent the classical musical works of our time, to participate in the development and expansion of the repertoire by collaborating with living composers, and to educate the musicians and audiences of the future. Speculum Musicae's concerts have taken the ensemble from coast to coast of the United States including appearances at University of California schools, the Denver Friends of Chamber Music, the Baltimore Chamber Music Society, Princeton, Harvard and Columbia Universities and the North Carolina School for the Arts. Overseas tours have taken the ensemble to Great Britain for the Bath Festival, Germany and Poland for the Warsaw Autumn Festival. Speculum Musicae's role in education includes an on-going residency at Columbia University and a program of workshops in New York City public high schools. The ensemble's large discography includes works of Elliott Carter, Stefan Wolpe, Charles Wuorinen, William Kraft, Eric Chasalow and David Rakowski, among others.