VARIATIONS AND FANTASIES ON AN ACCORDION SONG

for Solo Piano

Written: 1995
Duration: 9'
Written for Michael Arnowitt
Premiere: Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players Concert, Blaise Bryski, piano, Cornell University, Barnes Hall, March 18, 1999.
PublisherBill Holab Music
 
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Program Note

In 1994–95 I wrote the soundtrack for a documentary entitled Journey Into Courage. This piece is a set of variations and fantasies on a theme in the “Accordion Song” played by Jenny and her husband in the documentary. I’ve been told by Jenny’s husband that this tune is an old, traditional song called John Tallis’ Canon.

My primary goal was to see how I could manipulate an extremely tonal theme through a theme and variations form. Originally, the piece was going to consist entirely of a theme and a few variations. However, when writing it, my mind wandered, and by the time I was done with some of the variations, they didn’t sound at all like the theme, and were only vaguely related to it. This is how some of the variations had a mid-life crisis and became fantasies.

The fantasies and variations in this piece are intentionally, stylistically eclectic. The jazz-style variations are inspired by Michael Arnowitt’s love of improvising.