COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 107

Concerto for Two Trumpets, Timpani, and Strings (1997)

for Two Trumpets, Timpani, and Strings

  • Allegro
  • Adagio
  • Allegro molto

Duration: 21 min.

Dedication: to Bruce McKinney and Ted McIrvine

Recording: Albany TROY548

Premiere: 1998; E. McIrvine Jr.; B. McKinney; Kingsborough; A. Rosner

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For some semesters in the mid 1990s, my academic responsibilities were divided between two institutions within the City University of New York. At both there were senior colleagues to whom to report and each was not only a good friend, but also a trumpeter, and a composer in his own right. I wrote the concerto and presented it to each of them on completion as an utter surprise. Soon after, I conducted the premiere with them, Ted McIrvine and Bruce McKinney, as soloists. Bruce and I remained colleagues at Kingsborough College for a number of years, but Ted died of bone cancer at the premature age of 45 in August 2000.

As my music goes, the concerto is relatively severe, perhaps because of the nature of the trumpet, or because the instrumentation suggested a certain neo-baroque tightness, or because both friends, as composers, were rather less modal and more atonal than I. Of course, this only goes so far, and the harmonies and structure do not resemble those of the true serial composers. The second movement does, however, use a ground or passacaglia bass, the first phrase of which is a 12-note unit. It also borrows a page from Elliott Carter in presenting a gradual metric modulation, by incrementally slowing down to half its original speed. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)