Miller & Ramsier Play Ramsier

Miller and Ramsier Play Ramsier

Paul Ramsier's doublebass compositions have established the composer as a major figure in the evolution of the instrument. His larger compositions are the most widely performed contemporary works for doublebass and orchestra since the premiere of Divertimento Concertante on a Theme of Couperin by the Chicago Symphony in l965.

These compositions have set new standards for the instrument through more than one hundred fifty performances with orchestras, including some of the world's most distinguished ensembles, such as the Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus, Kansas City, St. Louis, Toronto, London, Basel, and Melbourne Symphonies; the Rotterdam, Istanbul, and Hong Kong Philharmonics; the Louisville and Minnesota Orchestras; the Israel Sinfonia, the McGill Chamber Orchestra, I Musici de Montreal, and the Zürich Chamber Orchestra. (Paul Ramsier: Compositions for Virtuoso Doublebass, is available from Albany Records, Troy 237.)

About this Recording

In the fall of l999, Ramsier moved from New York City to Sarasota, Florida, where, he says, “I discovered that John Miller, principal bass of the Florida West Coast Symphony, is a world-class soloist of rare gifts.” Since then Miller has performed three of Ramsier's compositions with this orchestra, including Divertimento Concertante and Eusebius Revisited, for which Miller received standing ovations.

During the summer of 2001, Miller suggested that he and Ramsier make a recording of some of the composer's compositions for doublebass that had not previously recorded. Ramsier was initially hesitant to practice the piano again, but Miller and others felt that a composer's participation adds a touchstone for performers—especially when compositions are published—and becomes a historical reference as well.

This recording was madepossible through the generosity of its sponsors, Herb Gordon, Nancy Anderson, and Lilo Weidinger. The Florida West Coast Symphony graciously provided the use of Holley Hall at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center for this recording.

John Miller performs on a bass made by Joseph Reiger, in Mittenwald Germany, in 1821. Paul Ramsier recorded on the concert Steinway in Holley Hall. Bill Stanley was the recording engineer. Greg Ondo completed the editing and mastering. Producers:John Miller and Paul Ramsier, with special thanks to Mark Noble.

Paul Ramsier

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Paul Ramsier showed promise as a pianist at the age of five and began composing at nine. At sixteen, he entered the University of Louisville School of Music. Later, he pursued graduate studies at the Juilliard School and Florida State University. During his early career in New York City, he was a staff pianist with the New York City Ballet.

Ramsier is the composer of orchestral, opera, choral and chamber music, in addition to his body of work for the doublebass.

He taught composition at New York University and the Ohio State University. After earning a Ph.D., he turned his attention to the study of psychoanalysis, and has since pursued a double career: psychotherapy and musical composition. Dr. Ramsier composed and practiced psychotherapy in New York City until l999, when he moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he continues both careers.

John Miller

Born in l966 in Hampton, Virginia, John Miller first took up the double bass in High School, after which studied bass with Sam Cross at James Madison University. His graduate studies wre completed at The Peabody Conservatory, where his principal teacher was Harold Robinson.

Currently, Miller is Principal Bass with the Florida West Coast Symphony, in Sarasota, a position he has held since 1993. His dual career as soloist includes performances of concertos with orchestras in Florida and New York. His frequent performances in chamber music ensembles have included Schubert's “Trout Quintet” with pianist Andre Watts. Before joining the Florida West Coast Symphony, Miller was Co-Principal Bass of the New World Symphony, and led its bass section on tours of Japan and the United Kingdom.

In l999, the editor of London's Double Bassist magazine reviewed Miller's Sarasota performance of Ramsier's Eusebius Revisited as part of a feature article called “A Miller's Tale.” According to Paul Cutts, Miller's performance was “rapturously received by an attentive audience [who were] delightedly surprised that the bass could sing with such poetry.”

Miller is an active bass teacher and conducts bass master classes as well. He and his wife, Jennifer, live in Bradenton, Florida, with their twin boys, Ike and Jake.

Notes on the Music

Three Lyric Pieces-Pavane, Lullaby, Habenera (Slava Publishing)

The Three Lyric Pieces were first performed with string orchestra by John Miller and the Florida West Coast Symphony, conducted by Leif Bjaland, on February 22-23, 2001. This recording is the doublebass and piano version.

Zoo of Dreams I: “WalrusBird”

(Stickley Music)

“WalrusBird,” for unaccompanied doublebass in two movements, has its debut by Miller on this recording.

“`WalrusBird' is the first of a series called Zoo of Dreams, which is composed for a variety of instruments. These compositions started out as dreams—my own dreams, or dreams given to me by others—that have stayed with me over the years and finally found their way into musical scores. The music doesn't try to draw a picture, or to tell a story, as programmatic music does. Instead, the music owes more to the atmosphere or feeling of a dream.”

Variations from Pieces for Friends, Vol. I

(Boosey & Hawkes, MO51360222)


Six Early Scriabin Pieces, transcribed by P.R.

(Boosey & Hawkes MO51360185. Separate Piano part: MO51360178)

“This group of lyrical pieces includes several that are among Scriabin's first published compositions for piano. The others were composed over a period of a good many years. However, they are here designated as `early' because they were composed before Scriabin evolved his most original style—which departs radically from his earlier work in its exploration of atonality. These particular pieces were selected because their melodies have always suggested to me the expressive qualities of low strings.”

J.S. Bach: Preludes and Gallantries, transcribed by P.R.

(Boosey & Hawkes MO51360222. Separate Piano part: MO51360192)

“These pieces were transcribed from the following sources: The Sarabande is from the French Suite in D minor. The Gavotte, the two Miinuets, Burlesca and Echo are the gallantries—which are characteristic movements in suites of the period. The Gavotte and the Minuets are from the French suites in E and D minor. The Burlesca and Echo are from the Partita in A minor and the French overture—all for harpsichord.

The two unaccompanied preludes were transcribed from a collection of short clavier pieces that are attributed to Bach. It was a common practice of the Baroque period for composers to transcribe works of other composers as well as of their own. Bach was no exception. Noteworthy examples are his transcriptions of several of Vivaldi's concertos, and one finds significant instances of Bach's transcriptions of his own work. In making these selections for Preludes and gallantries, I felt that the straightforward melodic nature of these pieces is especially suited to the sonorous character of low strings.”

Pieces for the Young and the Very Young

The Grand Bass Gavotte, from Pieces for Friends, Vol. II

(Boosey & Hawkes MO51360222)

Bicycle from Pieces for Friends, Vol. II

(Boosey & Hawkes MO51360222)

The Low-Note Blues for narrator, doublebass, and piano. (John Miller, doublebass and narrator.)

(Boosey & Hawkes MO51360154)

Composed for Channel Four Television, London, The Low-Note Blues is widely performed, both with string ensembles and with piano.

Pied Piper, for piano. (Played by the composer.)

(Boosey & Hawkes MO51240340)

Pied Piper is a collection of piano solos for young pianists. It is included in this recording because it formed the basis for Road to Hamelin for narrator, doublebass and orchestra, a standard work for virtuoso doublebass. (A recording of Road to Hamelin is available on Albany Records, Troy 237).

—Paul Ramsier