• Morton Gould
  • Remembrance Day (Soliloquy for a Passing Century) (1995)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)
  • 3(pic)2+ca.3+bcl[+ebcl].4sax.2/4331[+]/timp.perc/[pf]/[db]
  • 9 min

Programme Note

Composer's note: All music, be it "abstract" or "descriptive," or "popular" or "serious," must speak for itself. Words about it are irrelevant, unless they be lyrics or narration. That being said, I will attempt a few words about my piece, because I was asked to do so, and the very special nature of the event in which this first performance takes place. Therefore I offer a guide to the musical gestures and terrain that make up the work, and hopefully help communicate my music to the listener. Remembrance Day opens softly with a prologue evoking a distant nostalgic lullaby. As it fades, a sudden loud chime combines with high clarinets in an anguished sequence that cries out a musical pattern establishing and shaping the body of the work. The music alternates between elegiac thematic references and the pulsings and accents of chimes and tolling bells. A slight pause -- then subdued but menacing sounds from muted trombones, tuba and percussion. Over this is a variant of the clarinets' initial "cry of anguish" -- but this time in quiet grief -- turning into a funeral cortege. The cortege proceeds to chants and responses that grow in intensity, changing to hymn-like swells and embellishments. A sudden explosive interruption, brutal and violent -- the pervious menacing muted trombone motif now unleashed. This leads to a full blown and affirmative chorale. Following this climax the work winds down, diminishing in intensity. There are passing references to what was heard before. Now comes a last variation on the chant, and a "pianissimo" echo variant in muted trumpets and then woodwinds of the hymns and chorales. As this recedes come the plaintive "cry of anguish" again -- unresolved. Once again, quiet pulsations, short silence -- and the epilogue -- a few fragments of the opening lullaby -- some final pulsings -- a few timpani beats -- silence. I am honored to have been asked to write this work, and I thank the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation for making this possible. I also hope that our children1s children, and their children in the 21st Century, will live in a world of Peace and Compassion, wondering why we inmates of the 20th Century Asylum spent most of the time destroying each other, while fervently believing in the Divinity of Humankind. -- Morton Gould