Category Archives: my own music compositions

My Piano Sonata 3, manuscript notes


I’ve written about my Piano Sonata #3 in C here before, but today I want to provide a detailed and “definitive” reference – which may get updated from time to time.


I began to compose the work in December 1961, right after my William and Mary Expulsion, at age 18-1/2, shortly before starting at George Washington University while “living at home”.  I wrote in rag-tag small composition notebooks available to me at the time.  Since this wasn’t getting entered anywhere, I wasn’t particularly attentive to legibility.  But I actually composed the first two movements pretty quickly, and was ready for the slow movement by March.  (The “chum” from William and Mary visited me at the end of January and saw what the first movement would be like.)   Then schoolwork slowed me down.  I left aside until the spring of 1974, when I was living in the Rivercrest Apartments in Piscataway, NJ.  Having returned from spending most of the winter on a benchmark for Univac in Minnesota, I finished the slow movement, and sketched out a Finale, on regular staff paper.  By September I had moved into New York City, started working for NBC, was socially involved with the Ninth Street Center, and had pretty much laid it aside. I was 31 then.


The First Movement (16 min.) starts with an ambiguous introduction “Molto Moderato” and then precedes to the Exposition “Allegro Moderato” (Qr at 160), 4/4, a neoclassical little invention in C.  Passage to the second theme in A Minor, also playful, is immediate.  (The only well-established classical sonata movement in a major key with second theme in relative minor that I know of is Brahms’s First Piano Trio in B.)   The second theme slows down for a moment with a Lydian mode motif that had occurred to me in English class in 10th Grade when we were studying short stories, and stayed in mind forever.  The exposition is repeated (w/o the intro).  The development is marked “Adagio” at the start and a lot of it is in slow tempo.  (The major classical work that does something like this is the first movement of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, in e minor, which I got a recording of – Scherchen’s on Westminster – some time in 1962.)  The music becomes detached, schizoid, and then goes into a twelve-tone fugato. The music tries to gather steam and disintegrates into cadenzas before getting some momentum again and building up to a romantic climax to start the Recapitulation, which states the first theme in grandiose chords but in E-fat Minor.  The second theme will come back transformed in C, and be almost “Brhamsian”.  The movement slows down and slips into minor and ends very quietly, in meditation.  A sustained quiet ending for this movement is mandatory for the whole concept to work.


The Second Movement (11 min.), in A-flat, is the Scherzo, 3 /4, at qr of 198.  The marking is “Allegro Moderato” but the sensation is that of speed, so “Vivace” would be more appropriate.  The pianist should play this opening fast and with virtuosity.  (It doesn’t lumber, like Bruckner.)  There are a lot of passages with octaves in eighth notes at high speed. The first Trio, in F Major, Moderato, in varying compound time signatures (like 9/4, 6/4) is a crude mockery of a march that comes back three times.  The trio is a mini-rondo itself as it is broken up by cadenza-like passages (in bizarre meters like 2/8).  The first part of the “exposition” in A-flat returns, to go to a second trio, which is a satirical waltz in C# Minor, which then pixilates. Finally, the “exposition” concludes in A-flat, and ends with one little flourish, FF, in the extreme registers of the piano.


The Third Movement (11 min.) is the Slow Movement or “Elegy”, and it starts with a 12-tone row, but “harmonized” in E-flat minor (a key used in the first movement to start the recapitulation).  There follows a main theme, a kind of dirge in F# minor, 12 /8, which had come to me when my father was recuperating from his minor heart attack over anxiety over my expulsion (it had happened to him around Feb. 15 when he was on business in Williamsburg, ironically;  he had driven home and was hospitalized briefly; he was told he had smoked his last cigarette).  Father often complained about loud music from the basement, so I tried with this theme to see what could be done “quietly”, but rather mesto.  There follows an etude-like episode in B-flat minor, 8 / 8 (odd measures), and then the F# Minor mesto returns as a grander theme, now often FF, on three staves.  I then move to a “middle section”, a Largo Religioso in B Major, which is rather like a highly chromatic hymn tune without words.  (Or, so to speak, “Words Fail”).  This section can be played in a self-contained manner (I’ve tried it on an organ and it works!).  Finally, a long development section starts, Grave, 3/4, with the twelve-tone row.  Going into some arpeggio-like passage work, it picks up momentum, and comes to an unresolved dissonance as a climax.  Here I recently added another passage of development, starting to recapitulate other composers.  Building on the Religioso theme (now in E Major), the tonality comes apart, as the “octave theme” from the Bruckner Ninth is overlaid upon it, and then the motto of Scriabin’s Black Mass appears, but in reverse (trying to rise up).  All this comes collects into one more unresolvable dissonance.  Finally, the opening tone row is played backwards, in E-flat minor again, and the movement ends quietly on a couple staccato minor chords, back in desolation.


Finale (12 min):  It starts in C, Andante 2 /4, and then quickly a fugato, Allegretto, 6 /8, and some other meters (even 7 /8).  I’ve outlined the structure in detail in my January 15, 2016 post.  There is a major “hymn-like” second subject in F# Major (with a lot of modulation and dissonance), then more development, which gradually brings in external music, and then a cadenza, all “crashing” to dissonance before the F# Major theme returns, and then fights being dragged back to C Major.  The triumphant end, in C, plays a lot of earlier material polyphonically over the final chords, that finally end in a “drumbeat” and one final shout, FFF.


My NIH notes (from my late 1962 stay as an inpatient) say that I “began to compose a series of piano sonatas based on a 12 tone scale. These were compositions that he did not hear in his head but rather worked out as a prearranged formula.”  Not very complementary, and not exactly correct.


Below I will diagram how I performed the work at home recently.  It took me, with my level of technique, about 67 minutes to get through it.  A good pianist would perform it in about 50 minutes, with 15-second pauses between movements.  That’s long for a piano sonata.  I can perform the first movement better than the rest of the work (and make it convincing), but I’m quite confident that the concepts work if well executed.


In the chart, a “c” means I played from iTunes, a “p” means that I played on the Casio.

The handwritten score pdf is in the same link as the previous day’s post (on the legacy site).  There is one URL for each movement, such as this for the first movement.   More instructions on the location of the physical booklet are forthcoming.


4.9Coda 1 stanaz F#71Sonata3Mov4cadcends in dissonance

Mov-seq desc page file played comment
1.1 Moderato,C 1 na p Introduction
1.2 Allegro,C 2 Sonata3Mov1E1 p Exp, first theme
1.3 Scherzando,a 3 SonataMov1E2, E2a,b p 2nd thm,Ossia avl; take repeat
1.4 adagio 4 SonataMov1D1 p Development, 1st 2 pages
1.5 Atonal 6 Sonata3M1D2,D2a (ossia) p 2 pages
1.6 Grave, cadenzas 8 Sonata3M1D3 p
1.7 allegro 10 Sonata3M1D4 p pick up speed
1.8 Allegro Maestoso,ebmn 14 Sonata3Mov1Ra p Recapitulation
1.9 transition 15 Sonata3movR2 ossia p
1.10 transition cont 16 Sonata3MovR3 p climax
1.11 2nd theme, C 17 Sonata3MovR4 p
1.12 Coda starts 19 Sonata3Mov1RC p Coda starts;
1.13 Tranquillo 20 Sonata3Mov1R5 p
1.14 Coda ends 22 Sonata3Mov1Rc1 p Movement ends quietly in minor
2.1 Scherzo, Vivace, Ab 23 Sonata3Mov2E1 c
2.2 Scherzo, cont 25 Sonata2Mov2R2 c
2.3 Trio 1, F 31 Sonata3Mov2R3 p long trio, only a little in Sib;
2.4 Reprise 1 42 na brief
2.5 Trio 2, c# mn 42 na play this w cadenzas
2.6 Reprise 45 na conclusion
3.1 Elegy, eb min 49 Sonata3Mov3I1 p
3.2 lamntation f# 50 Sonata3Mov3E1 p father’s theme
3.3 8/8 b-f min 51 Sonata3MovE2 p
3.4 lamentation f# in octaves 53 Sonata3MovE3-1a
3.5 Religioso B 55 Sonata3Mov3Religioso c chorale
3.6 Grave molto, atonal 57 Son3Mov3D1 c
3.7 accel 61 Sonata3Mov3D2 c,p much was played manually
3.8 extra material 61f Sonata3MovD3 c comes to a dissonance
3.9 coda, palindrome 62 Sonata3Mov3Coda p
4.1 Andante 2/4; Allegretto 6/8 63 MSonata3FinaleS1 c
4.2 Andante 65 MSonata3Finale1 – 2, after playing at 65A p,c
4.3 Mahler 5 theme 67 Sonata3Mov4E2a c
4.4 intermed develop 67f Sonata3Mov4E3a c
4.5 F#Maj hymn 68 HoldApplauseTheme p
4.6 Devel 1 with external minuet 68 Sonata3Mov4E5a c I probably should call this D5a
4.7 Dev 2 with external songs 69 Sonata3Mov4E5b c D5b
4.8 Cadenza, external materials 70 Sonata3Mov4cad c ends in dissonance
4.10 Coda 1 Stanzas go to F Min 72 Su702CfromF#c 17 measures p
4.11 Coda 2 Modulate to C, stay in C 72 Sonata3Mov4Coda2 p end FFF


(Published: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 at 9:30 PM ESR)

Update: Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016

I found this printout of some alternate music (6/4) for the final coda in the Finale.  Don’t recall the file number.  I need to work it in.

My Piano Sonatas 1 and 2: Notes on manuscript sources


One of my ongoing efforts is to document the music I have composed, party with the idea that if something happened to me (at 72), someone could discern my intentions and some of it might get professionally performed.


Note that the “file names” that I give are the names of PDF’s (and sometimes MP3 files) on which I have save them.  They will all be available on the Safe Deposit Backup USB (to be described soon).  Otherwise, they are available in the “Scores” directories of my Windows 8 and above computers, and my most recent MacBook (and backed up by Carbonite).


I have composed (or sketched in detail) three Piano Sonatas, and I want to leave some notes now.


The Piano Sonata #1 in A Major is a neoclassical affair.  I believe it was composed and written out by hand when I was 13, in early 1956.  A chum at William and Mary claims to have memorized it by ear and played it in California over Christmas in 1961, shortly after my William and Mary expulsion.  A complete performance should take about 16 minutes.  The files are all named Son1M1.pdf through M4 (and were recorded from Sibelius in 2013;  sib files exist that can convert to mp3).


First Movement: Allegro, 2/4.  The first theme is based on a perfunctory ascending and descending scale that the chum liked. The second theme makes heavy use triplets.   5 min with repeat.


Second Movement: Adagio, 4/4, A Minor, a funeral march with a very symmetric theme.  4 minutes.


Third Movement: Minuetto (A Major), and Trio (D Major).  This movement has some bite, and I like more than my little E Major Minuet that won a composition contest in 1957.   3 minutes.


Finale:  Presto, Tarentella, 6/8, A Minor.  A very symmetric piece. It stays in minor (no happy ending).  Some music very similar to this was played in the pre-show of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012.  I wonder if it really did stick in somebody’s mind at William and Mary in 1961. 3 Minutes.


The Piano Sonata #2 in D Minor is much more ambitious.  It is hype-rromantic.  I was impressed by works like Brahms First Piano Concerto, and Concertos 2 and 3 by Rachmaninoff.  There is a tendency for the music to sit in the rhetorical dominant too much (Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto tends to do that but is still a masterpiece), but that could be revised.  I think the piece, if performed by a virtuoso perfmance, would work.  A complete performance should take about 28 minutes.   The file name is MUSSonata2.  It is a PDF of the handwritten copy (27 pages)


I believe I handwrote the score on the kitchen table in the late winter of 1960, im 11th grade, when I was 16, particularly on some snow days (we had three big March storms that year – “three White Wednesdays”).  The manuscript had to be written neatly in black ink, and the process was tedious, rather like doing a biology lab “draw and label”.  I entered it into a composition contest and have shown a couple of the feedback letters.  (One grader suggested study of Bloch, Bartok, and Kabalevsky!   Bartok I would respect!)  I have tried manipulating the manuscript pages on the iPad.


First Movement:  The exposition starts with a brief slow introduction (which can be repeated) and then moves to an Allegro Commodo, 3 /4 (a quarter note at 168). The opening theme sounds symmetric and contrapuntal, and migrates to F Major for the Minuet-like second subject (Qr at 144). The development is stormy (I was influenced by the cadenza of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto) . The Recapitulation is pretty straightforward with the second subject in D. Then there is a brief cadenza and a violent close, FFF, crashing on D Minor chords.


Second Movement: G Major, Lento Placido, Qr at 52, 4 /4.   It is a simple sonatina form with two subjects, the second in D Major.  After a short development, there is a cadenza requiring “leggerio”. The second theme returns as a singable chorale-like hymn, before ending quietly.


Finale:  It starts with an introduction, a cadenza to migrate from G Minor back to D Minor, but it is so extensive as to almost constitute a separate movement (in place of a “scherzo”).  A Rondo follows, in 2/2 (accidentally left out), with a toccata theme in triplets.  The second subject in 6/8 is more lyrical, and will appear in B-flat and G Minor before the chromatic “refrain” part of this subject returns at the end as a “big tune” D Major triumph, leading to a rush to a wild, joyful close.


The manuscript has hand indications of other chord formations for some passages to reduce the dependence on the dominant key (A Major v. D Major).  But well performed, it might not be necessary.


I believe I performed the D Minor before my second piano teacher’s class in her home in Arlington in the Spring of 1960.  I believe I played them for a friend om Ewell Hall at William and Mary (in the practice rooms) in the fall of 1961.

All these links are available here.

(Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2016, at 9 PM EST.)


Update: Monday, April 25, 2016  (about 6:30 PM EDT) 

Saturday night, I stumbled through playing the complete Sonata #2 on my Casio.  It took about 35 minutes.  It shocks me that I was able to play this at age 16 as a junior in high school, and recognize how much skill I lost.

The piece is surprisingly effective, and would work, at least as a “curiosity”, if performed by a virtuoso pianist.  The style at first glance seems perfunctory, built on neoclassical mannerisms all the way back to Scarlatti. But in the development section, on p. 5, the music becomes stormy, and then violent at the end of the first movement, and gradually triumphant in the finale.  The “big tune” in the finale has a lot more harmonic modulation than the other materials.

The “sturm und drang” process on p. 5 returns in the “Introduction” to the finale (which is almost a separate “scherzo” movement, however abbreviated), and then again in the Finale before the final appearance of the “big tune” in the Picardy D Major.

When I play this passage by itself, it seems trite, with the “dominant of the dominant” effect, as if the basic tonality were A major.  My ear was somewhat influenced by the massive cadenza in the first movement of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto, but not as sophisticated. But there is also some similarity to material toward the end of the long first movement of the Piano Concerto in C# Minor by Amy Beach (1896), which after being laid back turns violent as the movement closes.  The passage does not sound as harmonically “trite” when played in context, but I think the two reappearances need to more harmonic ventures, especially using the “Beach chord” using the sixth interval (so effective in the finale of the Beach concerto).  Also, the opening theme of the first movement mixes the interval of the fourth with the minor second (something Scriabin developed in his “Black Mass”, Sonata 9). That could provide material for harmonic enrichment.  One of Alma Mahler’s songs (in D Minor) has a harmonic progression that seems also relevant.  But simply changing keys by measure (as suggested in the handwritten notes on the copy) would not be effective.

I will develop a plan, detailed in a blog posting later, identifying pages and measures, of how to make the changes, especially to the recurring “Development Section” passages when they are repeated.  I’ll probably make some files of rewritten passages on Sibelius and post them.  It’s not practical right now to rewrite the entire manuscript in Sibelius until there is more “help”/

I note also that the opening theme in the slow movement resembles the Andantino theme of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1, although I use G Major and 4/4 time (a tritone away from D-flat in the Tchaikovsky).


Finale of my Sonata 3 (1962, 1974), progress report


I have revised the template to the Finale of my Sonata 3 in Sibelius 7.5 on my MacBook, so I want to record a note about what I have.

All of the file names below are what I have saved the various
“pieces” of the Finale as.  In time, I may publish more of the pdf’s for these (or even mpg’s).  But I wanted to take a checkpoint on where this work is.

The best sequence right now is:

MSonata3FinaleA1   Opening toccata   (C, Allegretto, 2/4 and then mostly 6/8, fugato-style

MSonata3Finale2   Transition, a little slower

MSonata3Finale3   Transition continues, antiphonal episode

Sonata3Mov4E2a   Reprise of toccata returns, C Major, 6/8

Sonata3Mov4E3a   Meno Mosso, 3/4, transition to major hymn episode

HoldApplauseHymn,  F# Major, 4/4 and 6/4, Andante, like a hymn but very chromatic, major “middle section” episode’

Sonata3Mov4E5a   3/8  “Development”.  Fugato theme starts getting mixed with material from my “short pieces” (Nov. 25, 2015 post) mostly the minuet theme centered around E. Comes to a dissonance

Sonata 3Mov4E5b  4/4  Development continues.  “Song themes” from later work try to slow the movement down.  A few motifs from Beethoven (Sonata 1 Minuet) and Scriabin (Black Mass) are briefly quoted in counterpoint.  The music struggles (becoming atonal) to maintain momentum, and comes to a crashing unresolved dissonance, as it tries to connect the music of this Sonata with that of other composers


Piano cadenza, largely atonal, emphasizing fugato themes in fast tempo, leggerio, bringing in themes from the first movement, showing them related.  The Bruckner 9th descending octave theme is quoted once.

Sonata4Mov4Coda1 and then Coda2 (“Coda of the Coda”)

The F# Major Hymn tune returns, Maestoso, FF.  Although the music is hymn-like and laid out the way the phrases of a hymn verse might be, the music has to get back to the key of C.  It goes to D#Minor, E-flat major, C Major, A Minor, A Major, D Major, then acts like it will end quietly in F.  But that is a ruse to move to the Final C, using the “Bruckner Modulation” at the end of the 8th Symphony. Finally, the descending thirds of the hymn tune ring out, as a rising theme (from the Bruckner 7th and scherzo from the 8th underneath, with motives from this Sonata played in rapid notes in the high treble) plays in the base, leading to the finally FFF chords and octaves in C, Maestoso.

(Published: Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, 4:45 PM EST)


The “miniatures” in my piano composition output — a plan for eventual publication


It’s time to provide an update on my music composition work.

Back in the early 1970s I sketched out a “symphony” in five movements that would have a lot of short voice (mostly solo) episodes interpersed with orchestra — not exactly “Das Lied …” (Mahler) but maybe distant related.  Some of this got sketched manually while I rode Eurailpass trains over northern Europe in the summer of 1972 (especially on the train from Kiruna back to Stockholm).


There are several “self-contained” little episodes in this mix that could be presented or published and played on the piano as distinct pieces, ranging in length up to about 4 minutes each.

There is a page where I summarize my music output to date.  It’s likely to be replaced eventually, but here it is for now, link.

The pieces that I would proposed to publish would be


SU102 “Fanfare” preceded by a prologue mostly in eighth notes, tempo accelerating (not shown yet), 2 min,

SU506Bf,  an Andantino in B-flat minor, 4 min, tends to use a base line from the SU102 piece (whose ideas set the tone for all the pieces).  The piece will resolve quietly in B-flat major with some harmonic experiments, toward simplification  (MP3 shown). This had been conceived as a vocal song called “Losing It”.

SU601G:  Adagio Placido in G Major.  2:47, MP3 shown

SU602Ef:  Andante, E-flat Major, rather chromatic, 2:10 MP3 shown

Su603Af:  Andante, A-flat Major, could be a trio to 602 or stand alone  2 min

SU604Df  Hymn, D-flat Major  2 min


(Not shown)  Moderato, E-flat Major

There is also a 2-minute “Adagio Religioso” in B Major, called “Chorale Theme” near the top of the link shown there, that is in relatively presentable shape.  That appears as a “middle section” episode in the slow movement (third) of the currently planned Sonata 3.


I’ll take a stab at predicting how this will affect the completion of the Sonata 3, mainly the Finale.

The Finale starts (in C “Major”, more or less) with some scale-like passages the quickly move to a playful toccata-like, fugato-like piece, with some vague references to an idea in the last movement of the Mahler 5th.  The music tends to slow down a little, then goes into a self-parody, introducing a minuet-like theme from the 1972 work (not shown here), and possibly an allegretto theme in 3/8 vaguely like the gentle “waltz” that provides the finale of the Beethoven Tempest Sonata.  All of this is more or less an “Exposition” of a first theme group, with a lot of ideas.  There is a question as to whether scherzo-like material can lead to a climax (although Rachmaninoff does it in his Second Piano Concerto, and Eugen D’Albert accomplishes this with the stunning conclusion of his little known First Piano Concerto, a teen composition).

There is an extended, very chromatic hymn theme in F# Major, which I call the “Hold Applause” theme which came to me in a dream.  It would be possible to construct it as a separate piece, and it would be singable as a church hymn, except for the constant tonality changes, going through intervals of minor thirds to finally circle back to F#.  There is a vague similarity to the Chopin A Major Polonaise Militaire, but I don’t want a salon effect.

Instead of a conventional development, there will be a “middle section” stringing together the themes from the pieces above (starting with a condensed version of SU102, sped up, to provide a reference for what follows).  In counterpoint, the fugato theme will dance around constantly, with the materials above providing “ground bass” material, but with less repetition than in a lot of modern music based on the idea.  The music will grow more dense and work up to an unresolved dissonance.  Toward the end of this section, the four-chord theme that open’s Scriabin’s “Black Mass” would be referenced, followed by some material (in toccata style)

There will follow a candenza, starting leggerio, fighting off being dragged down by a new element, a transplant of the “octave theme” from the Bruckner Ninth, while a little of the fugato is “recapitulated”.  It will mount to an even more desperate unresolved dissonance, before the “big tune” F# Major Theme appears, which must find its way back a tritone away, to C Major.

There will be one more brief slowdown to pianissimo (faking those who like quiet endings), and an allusion to the dissonance, in C# Minor, before suddenly resolving to C Major and staying there for a grand conclusion.  In about 16 measures the rising theme from the Bruckner 7th plays once, as well as the controversial “Hallelujah” motive (from the “unfinished” Bruckner Ninth) in the treble, on top of the toccata stuff, before the music crashes FFF on two C Major chords, and one more reference to the Applause.

Note that on that file, the Sonatas 2 and 3 are in handwritten PDF format.  Sonata 2 is in reasonably readable shape.

I will look into products that might make this flip on the iPad. For example, there is a free PDF Page Flip Reader

(Published: Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at 11 PM EST)






Entering my Sonata #3: Progress


I have started entering a lot more passages from my “Piano Sonata #3” from 1962, and then 1974, in Sibelius 7.5 on a new MacBook in an OS 10.2 Yosemite platform.

The first two movements, and most of the slow movement were composed in the spring of 1962, after I had entered George Washington University and was “living at home” after my William and Mary “expulsion” for admitting “latent homosexuality” the previous November. My father had experienced a mild “heart attack” over the stress and was sometimes unnerved by the volume of classical music coming up from the basement.  Some of the music, especially a theme in the slow movement, recalls that period.

I finished the slow movement and sketched out a finale while living in Piscataway, NJ in 1974, and traveling back and forth to St Paul MN while working for Univac.

I’ll give the “names” of the files, really for my own reference (they aren’t online as such), and note how they were entered.

A segment entered manually (“M”) is fitted to the measures exactly.  A segment recorded through the Midi from an electric piano is harder to read and doesn’t match the measures yet.

In the first three movements. all files have the form “Sonata3Mov1,,,: (or Mov2 or Mov3)

First movement

Ein:  Introduction, Molto Moderato, 4/4

E1  Exposition  C Major. Allegro Moderato, 2/2   page 2

E2  Exposition, A minor, second theme, Scherzando, page 3

D1 Development  Adagio, 4/4 no signature

D2   Moderato, F# Major, based on second theme

D2c  twelve tone fugato, Andante, 4/4  tone row based on first theme

About seven pages of development remain to be scored

R1  Recapitulation, 4/4, Eb Minor, based on first theme, Allegro Maestoso,  R2-R4 continue the Recapitulation with a “false start trick” to go to Ab Minor before returning to C for the second theme (to introduce more asymmetry — remember how the Recapitulation of Mozart’s famous C Major Sonata 15 first movement is a mirror of the exposition, starting in F, that’s a little boring). The Coda R5 goes suddenly to minor, Mahler-style, and introduces the descending third fragment to come back in the Finale.

7 pages of recapitulation remain.  The second theme slows down and reappears in C Major.  Then a new descending third “applause” motive appears, and leads to a quiet coda that suddenly turns to minor.

Second movement: Scherzo

E1 and E2:  Main theme, A-flat major, 3/4, Vivace, a lot of octave passage work, repeated rhythm cycles almost like Bruckner.

T1:  Trio, F Major.  This is a comic majestic section with lots of blocked chords in varying rhythms, followed by leggerio passage work, in many cycles.  The trio is long and takes 9 pages (just 2 are coded). There is a deliberately pedantic nature to it.

Main theme returns, briefly

A second trio, in C# Minor, 3/4 waltz (“Valse Triste”) rhythm, much shorter than the first

Main theme returns, about 5 pages, ends in a flourish, FF.

Third Movement: Elegy (slow movement)

E1  starts with a stately introduction, a twelve tone theme, but harmonized artificially in E-flat minor.

It then proceeds to a second theme, in F# Minor,  Adagio, the “father theme”, although there is a little bit of similarity to the slow movement theme of the Hammerklavier, but this is much more florid. (It’s not quite a “chamber of sorrows”).

E2 is a perfunctory fugato in B-flat minor, followed by a reprise of the “father theme”, expanded into octaves and four voices.

Then R1, “Religiosos”, is a 2-minute hymn, slow tempo, in B Major, very chromatic, rather like a Liszt Consolation.  It could be played stand alone (like as a church offertory).  It would work on an organ. It is essentially the “middle section” of the slow movement.

D1 and D2 “develop” the “father” theme and as well as  the opening tone-row.  They build up to a loud climax.

Here, I want to add a “cadenza” with some chordal passages showing how chromaticism and twelve-tone are equivalent, and introduce a fragment of the “Applause” theme for the finale. After great shouts, the movement will play the opening dirge in retrograde, harmonized again in E-flat minor, and close quietly and simply.

The Finale exists in hand sketch, one manually entered opening, then many passages recorded at the Casio.

The opening Allegretto, C Major (nominally) is a fugato  (“MSonat3FinaleS1”), 2/4 but with changing tempi (7/8 at one point), seemingly playful.

The Fugato “development) occurs in E2, E2a, E3a, mixing toccata-like fugal writing with dissonant chords.

The fugato generates a couple more playful themes, almost by asexual budding, as if to defend the introverted, solitary personality. The music becomes more chordal and modal, with tempo changes, until the true “second subject” appears, which I call the “Hold Applause” theme, based on a dream, but appropriate when a pianist wants to assemble a single uninterrupted program from contrasting composers.  The theme starts in F# Major, migrates though minor thirds to C before coming back to F#.  It is hymn-like, and may recall a Chopin military polonaise.

After more perambulations of the scherzo-like theme, the Applause theme occurs again with great majesty as a Rachmaninoff-style big tune, migrating from F# gradually back to C.

Hymn theme files:  HoldAppauseHymn1, HoldApplause1

Conclusion: Su701FsApplauseTheme (more melodic variety toward end), Su702Cfrom FS

(Published Tuesday,  March 17, 2015, 11:50 PM EDT)





My own music history, mostly as a youngster


I will be discussing the “timeline” of my own life and self-awareness on another blog entry soon, but a very important component of tracing this history is the music I performed and composed, particularly early in life.


I was born on July 10, 1943.  I started piano lessons in February 1952, in third grade, at age 8.  I took piano lessons twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) and had Wednesday class, in the home of a Mrs. McDermott in Arlington VA until her death in May 1958 from colon cancer.  Her illness was sudden.  The I took piano from a Mrs. Wheeler, also in Arlington, until after graduation from high school in 1961.


I performed in numerous recitals, and according to scrapbook records, it looks as though I performed in the “Festivals” every March from 1953 (fourth grade), until at least 1959 (tenth grade).  The festival required performing a “required” piece for grade difficulty from a list and an elective.  The elected piece had to be composed by an American, or a composer who had lived in the United States for much of his or her life.  Sergei Rachmaninoff was included, and I played the B minor  and E Major preludes from Op. 32 in the last two festivals.  Records also show I performed the infamous C# Minor Prelude at least once.  I recall playing the Debussy Arabesque in E, and a Schumann piece called “May, Sweet May”.  I may have performed the Chopin G Minor Prelude.  It looks like I earned “Superior” ratings four of those six years.


It looks like I had started composing at around 11 years old, in sixth grade. I have re-recorded much of this music on my Casio through Sibelius on a MacBook and preserved some manuscripts and mp3 records, published here.   A few of the works are shown in photographed documents converted to Adobe PDF’s.

For tracking my own sense of “who I am” (an upcoming posting) early in life, it’s useful for me to list everything I composed, or could reconstruct, and give the status of any manuscripts that I have.  All compositions are playable on piano

Year Composition Manuscript? Online?
1955 Inspiration Sonatina, F Major, 4 movements, 10 min L N
1956 (perf. 1957, 1961?) Sonata 1, A Maj., 4 movements, 14 min L,S,P, P
1956 (perf. 1957) Minuet, E Maj P P
1956 Anthem, “Lord Thou Art My God”, 3 part chorus, F Maj N N
1957 Anthem, Psalm 133, D-flat P P
1960 Sonata 2, D Min, 3 movements, 25 min P (photographed) P
1961 4 Modal pieces (4 min) N N
1962, 1974, 2012 perf. 1991 Sonata 3, C, 4 Mov., 50 min P(photographed) P, some excerpts as MPG
1972-1974 “Song Symphony”, 6 min, no key, 40 min S Exceprts as P and MPG
1962, 1974 Orch. Symphony, E Min. 4 mvmts, 30 min S Excerpts as P
1974 Polytonal Prelude (D and E), 4 min S P,MPG


(L refers to Apple Logic, which I got before Sibelius.)

I entered the first two sonatas and Minuet into composition contests in the period 1957-1960.  I think I composed the Sonata, which has its own Minuet, first.  The E Major Minuet won a prize, but the Minuet in the Sonata is more interesting.  I’ve given some history of these pieces on Blogger here.

I must say that in the “Song Symphony”, in an episodic “scherzo” movement, I experimented with taking a minuet theme, and then recasting it harmonically (by throwing in polytonality, which classicism can always “use”) and telescoping the rhythm.  It’s like a Haydn minuet (rather than Mozart), with lots of little surprises that come on.  It’s not literally adopted, but a movement from the “Farewell Symphony” figured in, as did the “Imperial”.

The most complete  big works are the Sonatas 2 and 3.  I must have written out the Sonata 2 manuscript on the kitchen table in black in in early 1960.  Much of Sonata 3 was written in the spring of 1962, after I had started at GWU from having returned home from WM.  My father had a “mild heart attack” and could not stand loud classical music from the basement.  The third movement was a reflection of that circumstance.

The scrapbook notes show a judge discussing an “Impromptu in A Minor”, but I recall no such piece. I think she mixed up the title with another contestant and was really judging the Sonata #1 in A.

I’ve discussed a William and Mary classmate’s (from 1961) compositions also, here.   Sometime in 1962, after I had returned “home” because of the “expulsion” from William and Mary that I have discussed on my blogs, I received a huge postcard from a high school friend from the old Science Honor Society, in which he sketched out eight folk songs.  They may be some of the Irish songs that Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and later Amy Beach, used in “Irish Rhapsodies” and symphonies, or they may include some Czech melodies.  The card may still be lying around in the attic or in estate property somewhere. If I find it, I’ll get it converted to digital.