Music of John Davison





John Davison




Sonata for Horn & Piano


Sonata No. 1 for Violin & Piano


Sonata for Trumpet & Piano


Pieces from Piano Music






John Davison, composer-pianist, born in 1930, grew up in upper New York state and in New York City. He studied music at the Juilliard lower school, Haverford College, Harvard, and Eastman, where he received his doctorate. Among his teachers were Alfred Swan, Randall Thompson, Walter Piston, Bernard Rogers, Howard Hanson, Alan Hovhaness, and Robert Palmer. Since 1959 he has taught at Haverford College. He has received a number of prizes and fellowships. Among his many commissions are recent ones from the Nittany Valley Symphony and the Altoona Symphony Orchestra. His music is published and recorded and has been played widely in the United States, as well as in Europe and Asia. Among orchestras playing his compositions have been the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the Susquehanna Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. He has written for most of the standard media, as well as for unusual instruments such as koto, cimbalom, and bagpipe. His trombone music has been particularly widely played. Davison has co-authored with John Ashmead a book on the songs of Robert Burns with new harmonizations of the folk tunes that Burns used. These have been featured in a video shown on national public television and have been recorded with soprano Shoshana Shay. Davison's idiom is rooted in the great Western classic-romantic tradition with Baroque, Renaissance, jazz, modernist, and folk elements mixing in at times.




The Sonata for Horn and Piano was written, with its present performers in mind, for Franklin and Marshall College, one of a series of commissions celebrating the College's Bicentennial in 1987. It is a big, rangy composition, all three movements having large arches of thematic presentation, development, and resolution. The first blends diatonic and chromatic motives, building to a series of climaxes. The leisurely second movement has a pastoral, elegiac character. The third, a driving diatonic rondo, subjects folk-like themes to a development influenced by jazz and by Renaissance counterpoint.




Davison's Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano was written for Carol Stein Amado, who premiered an earlier version of it in Carnegie Recital Hall in 1964 and the present version in 1976. The first movement, after a short introduction, launches into a dissonant, free passacaglia; the second movement is gentle and nostalgic, rising to a single climax and receding. In sonata-allegro form like the second movement, the third builds an exuberant finale out of a folk-like first theme and a more contemplative second group that includes an old psalm tune. A coda presents a brilliant fugato (against which is briefly heard a strain of "Columbia, the gem of the ocean," the movement having been finished on Independence Day!).




The Sonata for Trumpet and Piano dates from 1990. Its first movement is an energetic sonata-allegro. Its second is unashamedly romantic, and commemorates a walk in a forest by a stream with the composer's wife Elizabeth. The final movement has a jazz-like beginning which is soon joined by a Celtic-type jig and an ancient plainsong hymn ("Veni, Redemptor gentium") which alternate and join in festive counterpoint capped by climactic fugato passages near the end.




The two preludes and fugue are early (1956) and were part of a fragmentary attempt to follow the tradition started by Bach of writing preludes and fugues in all keys. The Lullaby, also early (1952) celebrates the birth of a friend's child; it later became part of a sonatina. The Passacaglia (1970) is the finale of a suite intended either for harpsichord or piano, and is based on a six-measure, eleven-pitch theme heard at the outset of the movement.




John Davison




The composer wishes to express special thanks to Haverford College, to Gregory Squires, and to all the recording artists.




Carol Stein Amado began her studies at The Juilliard School with Christine Dethier. She appeared with the New York Philharmonic and continued her studies at Yale University with her uncle Joseph Fuchs, violinist, earning Bachelor's and Master's degrees. As a Fulbright Scholar at the Paris Conservatory she received the Premier Prix in violin. She is a founding member of the Amado String Quartet and of the Chamber Arts Trio with her twin sister, Barbara Stein Mallow, cellist, and with pianist Albert Lotto. With her mother Lillian Fuchs, violist, she appeared at the Aspen Music Festival in the summers of 1981 through 1986. In the Fall of 1988 she toured China with Albert Lotto at the invitation of Shanghai Radio. She has concertized extensively in the United States and has performed in Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic. In the summer of 1994 she participated in the XVI Festa Musica Pro Mundo Uno in Orvieto, Italy and was invited to return to the festival in the summer of 1995.




Terry Everson is Professor of Trumpet at the University of Kentucky, where he enjoys an active career of teaching, performing, composing and arranging. He has won three international solo competitions, and has premiered major works by Stanley Friedman and Jan Krzywicki, in addition to John Davison's Sonata. His collaboration with Susan Nowicki has


produced recordings of numerous notable modern works for trumpet and piano; their first compact disc was released worldwide by the International Trumpet Guild to great acclaim. Prior to his appointment to the University of Kentucky faculty, Mr. Everson lived for ten years in Philadelphia, where he performed with such diverse ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chestnut Brass Company, H.B. Smith Cornet Band, Pro Christus Brass and Philadelphia Natural Trumpet Ensemble. He was also director of Performing Arts Ministries at True Light Community Ministries in inner-city Philadelphia, and taught music theory at the Philadelphia College of Bible. Mr. Everson's current activities include performance with the University of Kentucky Faculty Brass Quintet, the Lexington Brass Band and Kentuckiana Brass and Percussion Ensemble. He is also director for the University of Kentucky Trumpet Ensemble, and has numerous works for brass published by Magnolia Manor Music Publishers.




Alan Feinberg, long recognized for his penetrating, technically dazzling performances of contemporary music, the two-time Grammy nominee has emerged in recent years as one of America's most imaginative, skilled, and eclectic pianists. In particular, Feinberg's series of three compact disc recordings on the Argo label, including the titles, "The American Innovator," "The American Virtuoso," and "The American Romantic," has received widespread critical praise as much for its intelligent and revealing approaches to unfairly neglected traditions, as for the astonishing virtuosity, control and expressive range of the piano playing it contains. Mr. Feinberg's impressive resumé also includes solo performances with various major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco, Montreal, and Baltimore Symphonies, and the American Composers Orchestra, among others. He has premiered over two hundred solo and chamber works throughout North America, Europe and Asia, and may be heard on nearly twenty commercial recordings. Mr. Feinberg has taught at a number of conservatories and music departments throughout the United States, including Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, and Oberlin College. He is currently on the faculty of the Eastman School of Music.




Albert Lotto won First Prize at the First Montreal International Piano Competition and was also the Gold Medal winner at the Busoni International Piano Competition held in Bolzano, Italy. He was a student of Sascha Gorodnitsky and was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in performance by The Juilliard School of Music. His American and international concerts are given to critical acclaim and he records for Spectrum and Prolone Records. In June, 1993, Dr. Lotto and Mrs. Amado performed in China under the auspices of the Fudan Museum Foundation.




Susan Nowicki has performed throughout the United States on piano, fortepiano and harpsichord, as soloist and in collaboration with singers and instrumentalists. She performs frequently with Philadelphia Orchestra members and has appeared at venues including Weill Recital Hall (New York), the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), and Jordan Hall (Boston). Ms. Nowicki has served on the music staffs of the Philadelphia Singers, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and the Opera Festival of New Jersey. Currently she is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she coaches for the vocal studies department.




A native of western Pennsylvania, French hornist William Purvis has been acclaimed both in the United States and abroad for his appearances as soloist and chamber music artist. Mr. Purvis is a member of the New York Woodwind quintet, the Orpheus Ensemble, and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and appears frequently as soloist with both orchestras. His numerous festival appearances include Tanglewood, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Caramoor, Salzburg, Kuhmo, Schleswig-Holstein, Perlada, Kitakyushu, and in London for the BBC. William Purvis' records include: Mozart's Horn Concerti No. 2 and No. 3 as well as the Sinfonia concertante K297b for Deutsche Grammophon with Orpheus; Horn Trios of Brahms and Ligeti on Bridge; and the Horn Trios of Charles Wuorinen on Koch. He is closely identified with the music of our time as both hornist and conductor, and has presented numerous world and U.S. premieres by composers including Babbitt, Wuorinen, Carter, Davies, Ligeti and Stockhausen. Mr. Purvis is a member of noted contemporary music ensemble Speculum Musicae, and has recently conducted Speculum in recordings of works by Carter, Wolpe and Stephen Jaffe, for Bridge Records. He pursues a complementary commitment to original instrument performance and has made recordings for Decca with the Amadeus Winds, and for Sony Classical Vivarte with Mozzi Fiato, an original instrument wind sextet. Mr. Purvis received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Haverford College. He is currently on the faculties of the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the Juilliard School, where he is Coordinator of the New York Woodwind Quintet Chamber Music Seminar.






Mr. Davison's music is published by Southern Music Publishing Co., Shawnee Press, and TAP Music Publishing. Compositions of his have been previously recorded on CRI Records, Crystal Records, Coronet Records and Encore Records.




Produced and engineered by Gregory K. Squires, Squires Music Production




Mastered by Wayne Hileman, Squires Music Production




Digital editing by Wayne Hileman & Arlo McKinnon, Jr., Squires Music Production




Sonata for Horn & Piano


Allegretto (6:56)


Adagio (7:19)


Vivace (5:32)


William Purvis, horn


Alan Feinberg, piano




Sonata No. 1 for Violin & Piano


Passacaglia (5:08)


Canzone (3:59)


Rondo (6:24)


Carol Stein Amado, violin


Albert Lotto, piano




Sonata for Trumpet & Piano


Allegro non troppo (4:10)


Andantino (4:03)


Allegro (4:50)


Terry Everson, trumpet


Susan Nowicki, piano




from Piano Music


Prelude (2:32)


Fugue (2:02)


Prelude (1:01)


Lullaby (2:24)


Passacaglia (2:54)


John Davison, piano




Total Time = 59:21