In my composing work, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had most of the pieces I’ve composed performed at least once. This is a post about the opposite — pieces I’ve composed that haven’t (yet) been performed. Rather than speculate on why these pieces never received a single hearing, I’m going to share the score demos below, in the hope that you — or someone you know — might be interested in playing them! They’re all really pretty fun.
Without further delay, let’s start with something light —
how about a Latin-infused reworking of Beethoven’s “Für Elise”? —
STILL GOOD AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!
for cello and piano
Are you a virtuostic cellist and pianist? Do you appreciate an element of ze flash? Winner winner, cello dinner! I wrote this piece in 2002 (!!) at the suggestion of a friend who offered to introduce me to two incredibly famous musicians (you can guess) — inspired by this opportunity, I wrote an encore that I hoped they might enjoy — but when I tried to hand them the music, they exclaimed that they don’t play any contemporary music — and when I mentioned it’s just a variation on Beethoven, I heard more of the same. True story — anyone want a winning encore? Even though this piece has been on the shelf since 2002, it’s – as the title suggests — “Still Good After All These Years”. Premiere it already!!
Next up on the block are two pieces for mixed quintet — two recorders (could also be played by flute and clarinet), viola, cello and piano.
“Lower Neighbor” was inspired by [my distaste for] Eastern European techno music – read more in the video description; and, as its chaser, I offer you:
“Diminution Reel” was inspired by — I thought — Irish bagpipe music — hence the “Reel” reference in the title. The melody (and the groove) keep folding into itself, like a dancer whose feet are made of spirals. (In this piece, one of the recorder players performs on the melodica.)
There are some really juicy and intricate grooves in both pieces, and I’d love to hear them live one day! Both pieces were commissioned by the Germany-based group SPARK, who lovingly recorded and perform several of my older pieces — but these two above somehow didn’t fit.
NEW COUNTRY RHODES
for violin and piano
I began sketching “New Country Rhodes” after hearing my teacher, Samuel Rhodes, and his wife, Hiroko Yajima, play music by Milton Babbitt — I wanted to compose something complicated-looking on paper, but also bluesy to the ear. This piece — perhaps more in the style of William Bolcom than Babbitt — is an attempt in that direction. It took five years to finish, and it’s never been played. I’d love to hear it live one day — will the ending work? Let’s find out!
KIDS THESE DAYS
for flute, clarinet, guitar, 2 violins, fadolín and piano
“Kids These Days” was commissioned by a radio program for an ensemble of promising young players and a couple of faculty, including me on fadolín. This piece has a really fun flamenco-influenced groove, and a quasi-fugal polka — a good time for everyone! Play it!
for viola and piano
“TAngst!” was written for a teenage violist and a pianist parent, early in the pandemic. It goes between a sly melody and breaks into a quasi-Balkan dance in the end — it’s also the first time I tried out Thomas Àdes-style irrational time signatures. It’s a fun piece — must the devil have all the good tunes? Play it!
We started this post with Beethoven, and we’ll end with Beethoven. Back in 2013, for my cousin Johnny‘s birthday, I decided to whip up an arrangement of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth for solo violin. After some years I put it up on YouTube as a score video:
You can certainly play it — but you won’t be exactly the first, because nine years later, the violinist Roman Kim recorded his own transcription of the same piece — and has nearly half a million views of it to date!
But you can still premiere “Still Good After All These Years” (scroll back to the top of this post).
Enjoy and thanks for looking!
(And, of course, if you’d like to commission something or if you have any questions…. drop me a line!)