Concerto for Chamber Orchestra

Peter Schickele

Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

After I had performed a couple of times with the OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the idea of writing a piece especially for them was suggested by Ransom Wilson, and its executive director, Nan Buhlinger. It?s a terrific festival, with an atmosphere that is equally down home and sophisticated?a bustling hive of artistic activity in a landscape that is long on sky and short on trees.

When I am commissioned to write a piece by individual performers or chamber music groups, I often pin their publicity flyers on the wall next to my piano. I started out as a composer writing music for my friends in Fargo, North Dakota, and I still like the feeling of writing for specific people, even though I hope that, in the end, many different people will perform the work.

In the case of the Concerto for Chamber Orchestra it was not so much individual musicians, but rather, Bartlesville itself that was on my mind, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the Southwest in general.

I make no attempt in my music to represent different styles or cultures in any authentic or literal way, and I also make no attempt to incorporate, for programmatic reasons, kinds of music for which I have no particular affinity. But I think that the influence of Mexican music, Native American music, square dance music, and the blues can easily be heard in this work, as well as that of European/American classical music.

One of the latter influences, to my mind, is the young Mozart; I?m a big fan of his early symphonies, and the clarity and dance energy of those delightful pieces quickly come to mind when I think chamber orchestra. The coupling of trumpets, horns, and timpani at the very opening is only one of the textures I use that hearken back to the 18th century.

The opening movement features each section of the orchestra in turn: strings, woodwinds and brass with percussion. The second movement is perhaps the most overtly Southwestern in its flavor, while the third movement is probably the most classical-sounding---it?s actually a minuet within a scherzo. The opening of the fourth movement was originally a sketch for a cello concerto, and the last movement, after an expansive recitative for the French horns, is based on a traditional square dance tune called Old Joe Clark. My first setting of that tune dates back to my college days, but this time around it had an added resonance, since Joe Clark is the name of the mechanic I take my car to in upstate New York; I?m not sure he?d like being associated with the adjective ?old,? but he?s a terrific mechanic, and I?m glad to pay him tribute, even if it is coincidental.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the OK Mozart Festival
Composition Date 1998
Duration 00:27:00
Orchestration 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 0 0; 2Perc. Str.
Premiere June 13, 1998. Mozart Festival, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, conducted by Ransom Wilson.