Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Townsend: Suite No. 1, Elegy

This is the second movement of the Suite No. 1 for guitar that began with this post. The first movement, Bagatelle, was written because I originally thought I was going to write several bagatelles. As time went on, a series of contrasting movements took shape that I decided to call a suite. In the Baroque era, the suite had a certain form, consisting of several dance movements in a certain order. Mind you, the French often departed widely from the usual, while the Germans stuck pretty close. Nowadays the suite often seems to be a series of excerpts from a ballet or other larger piece: the Nutcracker Suite, for example. My suites are simply a set of contrasting movements in different tempos that create some kind of progression of mood.

Today we are listening to the second movement, which is slow. It is an Elegy, which is traditionally a kind of lament for the dead. This one started as a simple piece for a student of mine. But a friend of mine, an elderly violinist, passed away and so I took the simple theme and expanded it into something larger which I played at his memorial service. I wanted a contrasting coda at the end with a bit of bite to it and tried stealing chord progressions from Mozart and others before giving up and coming up with my own!

The main influences are probably Beethoven and Chopin.

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