• Joan Tower
  • Purple Rhapsody (2005)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 2(pic).0.2(bcl).2/0.2.0+btn.0/timp.perc./str
  • Viola
  • 17 min

Programme Note

Composer Note:

PURPLE RHAPSODY was commissioned by the Omaha Symphony with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra with a grant from the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress. The work is dedicated with affection to the wonderful violist Paul Neubauer who made it all possible.

The sound of the viola has always reminded me of the color purple-a deep kind of luscious purple. In fact, the first solo viola piece I wrote for Paul is called "Wild Purple" (where the "wild" refers to the high energy and virtuosity of that work).

In the concerto, I try to make the solo viola "sing"-trying to take advantage on occasion (not always) of the viola's inherent melodic abilities. This is not an easy task since the viola is one of the tougher instruments to pit against an orchestra.

In fact, for my orchestration of this work, I left out several instruments (horns and oboes) to thin out the background to allow the viola to come forward (even in strong passages) with a little more "leverage". I am hoping that at the climaxes of some of these "rhapsodic" and energetic lines, the orchestra does not overwhelm the viola.

The work lasts 18 minutes and is in one movement.

—Joan Tower


Joan Tower, PURPLE RHAPSODY, Paul Neubauer viola, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Timothy Russell conductor