• 4(4pic,afl).3+ca.3(bcl)+bcl.3+cbn/
  • 12 min

Programme Note

First performance:
July 8 2012
Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra
Gunther Schuller, conductor
Lenox, MA

I. Scherzo umoristico e curioso
II. Nocturne
III. Birth — Evolution — Culmination

Composer note:
Dreamscape was commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center for Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary celebration, to be performed by Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. I was offered a very generous instrumentation (woodwinds and brass in fours, six percussionists, two harps, and a sizable string selection). The one specific requirement was that the piece should be no longer than ten or eleven minutes.

P.S. I now must reveal that virtually the entire work — yes, the entire work — was presented to me in a dream, no just little bits of it but ranging from its overall form and conception to an amazing amount of specific detail. Even more astonishing to me was that my dream forced me to write/compose some things that I had never done before and would in all likelihood never do on my own, so to speak, without my dream. These were particular rhythmic/technical/structural matters as well as for me never previously attempted unusual multi-polyphonic layerings.

The dream also determined that there shall be three movements, and one of these shall be humorous (á la Ives’s “take-offs,” “cartoons”); thus the Scherzo umoristico e curioso. By contrast, another movement would have to be dark and somber, i.e., Nocturne. For the third movement it decided that it should deal in some way with the concept of evolution; it called it Genesis.

Even more startling was the amount of detail the dream gave me, utilizing all the tools of our musical craft (pitches, rhythms, dynamics, specific harmonic and melodic decisions, etc.).

We all know that dreams vanish instantly after we’ve awakened. And I had learned from previous musical dream experiences that if you want to retain some of what you dreamt you had better get out of bed right away, and start writing down as quickly as possible as much as you can recapture. Alas, in most previous dream experiences it was very little, too short. But this time I was able to write down, in both verbal and musical notation and all kinds of shortcuts and abbreviations a whole ten minutes of vivid precise information — even as I could feel other parts of the dream disappearing.

It was, as I say above, virtually the whole piece. All I had to do now was to flesh out and finalize all the immense amount of detail. So, what you will hear tonight is what the dream composed for me, what it made me compose.

— Gunther Schuller