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Passacaglia (2005)

Related Artists/Companies

Paul Moravec

Past Performances

Image unvailable for Trio Solisti Trio Solisti - Thu., Dec. 3, 2009, 7:30 PM

About the Work

Quick Look Composer: Paul Moravec
Program note originally written for the following performance:
Trio Solisti Thu., Dec. 3, 2009, 7:30 PM
© Dr. Richard E. Rodda
Paul Moravec, born in 1957 in Buffalo, New York, holds an undergraduate degree in music from Harvard (1980) and master's and doctoral degrees in music composition from Columbia (1982, 1987); his principal teachers include Fred Lerdahl, Jack Beeson and Mario Davidovsky. Moravec has taught at Columbia (1980-1987), Dartmouth (1987-1993), Hunter College/CUNY (1998) and, since 1997, at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, where he is now University Professor. Moravec's works — orchestral, chamber, choral and vocal compositions, as well as several film scores and electro-acoustic pieces — have earned many distinctions, including the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, a Fellowship in Music Composition from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, a Camargo Foundation Residency Fellowship, a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship and a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Bearns Prize in Music Composition and a MacArthur Residency Fellowship from the Yaddo Corporation. In April 2004, he was awarded the year's Pulitzer Prize in Music for his chamber work Tempest Fantasy, a five-movement "musical meditation written for Trio Solisti on aspects of Shakespeare's The Tempest." Moravec's numerous residencies include the Composers' Conference of the East at Bennington College, Mannes School of Music, California Summer Music (Pebble Beach), Centrum Music Festival (Port Townsend, Washington) and Newel Center (Warm Springs, Virginia); he was Artist-in-Residence with the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton for the 2007-2008 academic year. In September 2008, Opera Omaha premiered his evening-length oratorio, The Blizzard Voices, based on Ted Koozer's book about the Great Plains blizzard of 1888; The Letter, with a libretto by Terry Teachout, was introduced at the 2009 season of the Santa Fe Opera. Recordings of Paul Moravec's music have been issued on the Naxos, Albany, Dessoff Choirs, BMG/RCA, CRI, Vienna Modern Masters, Endeavour Classics and Arabesque labels.

Moravec wrote, "I composed Passacaglia [an old musical form comprising a series of continuous variations built on a recurring melodic phrase] in 2005 for Trio Solisti as part of a comprehensive compact disc collection of music by American Academy in Rome composers on Bridge Records. The principal passacaglia theme is first heard at the very outset of the piece, played extremely quickly and repetitively in the highest register of the piano. The theme slows and settles downward through the registers until it is picked up by the cello in its low register. The music then cycles through a number of variations and accumulation of subsidiary themes, including the B-A-C-H motive [B-flat, A, C and B-natural, according to the German notation convention], in tribute to the great contrapuntalist. The bulk of the piece may be regarded as a gradual acceleration, intensification and eventual evanescence of the various themes back to the state of extreme rapidity and high register that began the piece."