Op. 51 – Harmonie no. 1

Wind sextet

  • Op. 51 – Harmonie no. 1 score page PDFOp. 51 – Harmonie no. 1 score page 1
  • Instrumentation: 2 clarinets in B flat (2nd also bass), 2 French horns in F, 2 bassoons
  • Composed: 2006-2008
  • Time: 22 minutes

  • Price: score and parts – $50.00

I have come to feel that a truly contemporary musical style in the 21st century must be eclectic. There are so many different types of music in our ears, music from so many different eras and backgrounds, that to filter one or the other out involves an unacceptable level of self-censorship. Composers in Bach's day or Mozart's day only ever heard one style of music, and so had no problem producing a body of music that was consistent and characteristic from work to work. Today our frame of reference is so wide that only by embracing all of the stylistic impulses that move us can we fully express who we are.

The stylistic elements in my Harmonie no. 1 are as diverse as in anything I've written. There are moments of standard tonality, free dissonance, 5-29 harmony, popular music, quasi-minimalist rhythmic patterns and more. This is all held together by a limited set of thematic materials which interpenetrate the four movements so thoroughly as to rule out pauses in between them. After an introduction, the first movement develops a number of interlocking rhythmic patterns suggestive of minimalist music, though there is no literal repetition in it. The second movement functions like a scherzo and is based on a pop tune of my own invention. The third movement continues the music of the introduction, developing it to a strong emotional climax in which the appearance of the children's tune Chopsticks somehow adds to the urgency of the moment. The lengthy finale alternates between a waltz-like dance in 3/8 and a Latin-flavored dance in 7/8.

This is a large and ambitious composition for six wind instruments, a difficult work for advanced players. The word Harmonie is the German term for a popular wind ensemble in 18th music, generally consisting of oboes, clarinet, horns and bassoons in pairs. This work does without the oboes.