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Oboe Concerto, Op. 21 - Czech

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This piece was begun while I was still studying in Prague. The instrumentation is a straight-forward ode to the Baroque-style of concerto writing, having a more intimate, chamber feel. Moreover, I wanted each of the movements to say both something of the country, as well as recount one of my own memories from my time there. Each movement is therefore a dedication to a particular figure in Czechoslovak history and they move in chronological order (beginning with its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire under Masaryk, c. 1918).


The first movement recalls a November hike in the outskirts of Prague, where it is far more rural and moderately hilly. I was with a couple of friends and we walked the path until we ended up getting lost, having taken the wrong turn. The music reflects this by consistently ‘losing its place’ and becoming diverted: phrasing is often truncated, the rhythms hesitate in precision, and the oboe frequent reaches to it's higher register in swooning melodies. The piece in essence depicts the Bohemian woods, which are culturally very important. For this reason, I chose Masaryk – the first Czechoslovak president and a symbolic ‘father of the nation’— as the dedicatee for this movement.


The second movement is for pacifist teacher Přemysl Pitter, who aided young Jewish, German, and Czech children who were prosecuted/abandoned during and after the Second World War. My professor – who was transfixed on American Quakers and pacifism – had a particular affinity for Pitter, and we visited his house in Žižkov. The piece is primarily tranquil, though the central section is spritely and dance-like.


The final movement is dedicated to the first president following the fall of the one-party system in the Velvet Revolution, Václav Havel, who was a playwright. During the communist rule, he was imprisoned several times for his political activities and his writings (via Samizdat). The music is frantic and, at times, scattered, with bits of material struggling to shine through. In essence, sections of the music are ‘censored,’ and themes from all three movements are combined as the music continues.

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  • 4 weeks later...

@Luis Hernández Thank you for your comment! This work took a good long time, but I am proud of it. No matter the work, I always take tremendous care with it. I wanted to keep it simple and straightforward, and I'm glad you enjoyed the string writing. My time in the Czech Republic is very important to me, and I can always look back on this piece to reflect. Most of the time while writing, I think in terms of tonal centers, and so the phrases tend to be very tonal. With that said, I try to keep the melodic lines free and independent, so I enjoy composing without tonal restrictions. Nonetheless, I have a handful of other, similar projects but I hope to revise soon. Thanks for the feedback. It is always appreciated!!

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@Jared Steven Destro  I love Czech Republic. I have visited that country several times when I was younger and it is one of the most beautiful places I know...

What I like is the way you stay tonal but free, as you said. That's a big difference. Tonal compositions imitating past styles are useless (to me), but as exercises. But when someone goes further then it's wonderful, classic and modern at the same time, and fresh...

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  • 3 weeks later...

It brought my attention from the very beginning since the beginning of the first movement is fabulous. The use of string orchestra in the first movement is awesome.

In general, the concerto has good ideas but there are way too many of them for a single three-movement work (you could have probably written five concertos out of all these ideas) and these frequent "respites" interrupt the fast flowing of the music too much and too often. 


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