Hommages for Piano, Book 1

for piano solo

duration: 10 minutes

partly commissioned by Melissa Hoag

Hommage a Kurosawa premiered by Leonard Mark Lewis on May 5th, 2000 in Jessen Auditorium in Austin, Texas. The Hommages to Zappa, Kaku and Kushner were premiered by Melissa Hoag on November 5th, 2004 in Ford Hall on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. The Hommage a Mandy Morris was premiered in Auer Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana on March 1st, 2006 by Kaoru Yamamura.

Hommages for Piano is an on-going project of very short, concise character pieces in hommage to various people that have inspired me over the years. These pieces can be performed as a complete suite, individually, or in any combination.

Hommage a Kurosawa was my first attempt at writing serial music. I wanted to write something that was not typical of the 12-tone style, and I think I succeeded with this work. The short piece is in hommage to the late Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. The delicacy, as well as the highly structured nature of the pitch material reflect how I feel about Kurosawa’s films. The piece is also a mirror of itself – in other words – the second half of the piece is a mirror image of the first half. I felt this tied in with Kurosawa’s story telling.

Hommage a Tony Kushner was inspired by the playwrite, Tony Kushner. In 1994 I saw one of the first performances of his highly influential drama Angels In America. Seeing this play live, and in the theater had a huge impact on me. The piece evokes, for me, the sense of troubled romanticism and fractured beauty that I felt when I experienced the play.

Hommage a Mandy Morris uses a fragment of a pop song written by her, as the genesis and basis of the piece.

Hommage a Michio Kaku was inspired by the latest theories of the universe put forth by physicist Michio Kaku. It evokes sudden and short movement within “empty” space, and even utilizes an approximation of the B-flat harmonic series, as it was recently discovered that the note B-flat is actually the fundamental note of the universe.

Hommage a Frank Zappa is a fast and furious two-part invention inspired by rhythms and motives from Zappa’s song “Inca Roads”.