• va, db, perc
  • 14 min

Programme Note

Composer Note:

When I was growing up in New York City, many different kinds of music were played in my house. My father and mother were both professionally involved in music, my father as a record executive and my mother as a dancer.

Often after dinner, my father would play piano transcriptions of Brahms or Beethoven symphonies and ask my brother and me to guess which symphony he was playing. I attended openings of some of the greatest Broadway musicals of the period, beginning with My Fair Lady, when I was a small boy. I remember coaching my mother in her lines for a performance of Stravinsky’s Persephone.

Jazz was also one of my loves—we had an extensive collection of records. I particularly liked the early Miles Davis Quartet and Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano, Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk.

After I began composing my own music, it occurred to me to write a piece called “American Country Music.” This title had nothing to do with country western music but rather the experience of growing up in America, fed on its delicious musical stew. The idea came to me in the 1970s but remained dormant. Rumble, which was commissioned by The Toronto Symphony for Steven Dann, Joel Quarrington and David Kent is a little step in the direction of my original idea.

When the combination of instruments was proposed to me and when I realized that the notes in Steven Dann’s name (S: E-flat, E, D, A) evoked the tune of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” it was impossible to resist. The name Rumble refers not to the street fight, but to “mixing it up.”

My piece is really a medley of character pieces: the first is called American Country Music, the second is Tango (a Homage to the late Astor Piazzola,) the third is Homage to Stuff Smith, the fourth is a Danzon and finally, a return to the opening music.

—Peter Lieberson

Sample Pages