• Gunther Schuller
  • Concerto for Alto Saxophone (1983)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 3(2pic)2+ca.2(ebcl)+bcl.2/4331/timp.3perc/hp.pf(cel)/str
  • Alto Saxophone
  • 19 min

Programme Note

Composer note
I wrote my Saxophone Concerto in 1983 at the instigation of Kenneth Radnofsky, in honor of his teacher, Joseph Allard, who was active in New York (at The Juilliard School), in Boston (at the New England Conservatory), and at many other music schools. He was the superb, inspiring mentor of hundreds of clarinetists and saxophonists. I first heard of Joe Allard when he played with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and I have known him personally since the mid-1940s. The deep respect and love that all his students have for him is evidenced by their collective commission of the Concerto.

It is in three contrasting movements, of which the second, Arioso, is for saxophone and strings only. This movement carries the further markings Molto adagio—Quasi recitativo—Sempre flessibile, and it exploits the lyric character of the saxophone. The outer movements, on the other hand—the first, con moto, and the last, Lively—explore some of the more virtuosic and technical aspects of the instrument, including a number of excursions to the instrument’s altissimo range, which has been explored only in recent decades. The third movement, a kind of rondo, interposes two lyrical episodes between the main thematic statements. These episodes feature a chamber music-like texture for a few solo instruments, including celesta in the first and harp in the second. The third ‘episode’ is turned into a solo cadenza for the saxophone.

— Gunther Schuller

Kenneth Radnofsky and the Pittsburgh Symphony gave the first performance of the Concerto on January 18, 1984, under the direction of Gunther Schuller