COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 85

A Plaintive Harmony (1988)

for Horn

Duration: 10 min.

Dedication: to Meir Rimon

Recording: Albany TROY1353-54

Premiere: 1988; L. Lovstad; Kingsborough

Performance materials available from the publisher.

The Israeli horn player Meir Rimon had heard my Sonata for Horn and Piano and wanted me to write a horn concerto for him. Somehow nothing seemed to “flow” for me in that genre—so I went the other way and composed an unaccompanied piece. In European languages “harmony” has two meanings. One, of course, is the simultaneous combination of pitches—chords, as we know them. The lesser-known meaning associates the word with any wind instrument. So—for example, the French call the concert band “l’Orchestre d’harmonie”. Thus it seemed an interesting play on words to title the unaccompanied work as I did considering that the work has no actual acoustical “chords” at all. The horn is the most difficult of orchestral instruments, and the demands on breath and lip created by a fairly long unaccompanied composition are arduously physically and artistically. Alas, Meir Rimon died prematurely of cancer so never had the chance to play it. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)