COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 97

The Parable of the Law (1993)

for Baritone and Orchestra


Text by Franz Kafka

Duration: 21 min.

Recording: Toccata TOCC0465

Premiere: 1994; E. Palay; JCC Orchestra of San Diego; D. Amos

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In 1993 Rosner composed a setting for baritone and orchestra of a portion of Franz Kafka’s enigmatic 1915 novel, The Trial, known as “Before the Law.” Rosner’s work is entitled The Parable of the Law and depicts the quintessentially  “Kafka-esque” plight of a man who spends years in senseless futility, awaiting entry to “the Law.” Tough the entry door is intended only for him, he is never admitted, until it is finally closed forever. Rosner’s setting captures the futile persistence displayed by the man as he attempts to overcome the senseless refusal of the doorkeeper. The baritone soloist recounts most of the story with the eerily impersonal detachment so characteristic of Kafka’s terrifying tableaux. Te work develops several motifs that are stated near the outset. Shortly after the beginning, the primary four-note motif is introduced with subtlety by the lower instruments, followed a few bars later by the horn, then by the clarinet. This motif dominates the work, which maintains a mood of ominous, grim foreboding throughout. (Notes by Walter Simmons)