Session IV

for Chamber Ensemble

William Bolcom

Duration: 00:08:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Session IV is the last of four pieces exploring ensemble concepts, the first and last ones using unmeasured against metered music for different players, something of a novelty in 1967. The first was written for Pierre Boulez?s Paris-based Domaine Musical in its residency in 1965 at the Westdeutsche Rundfunk - the West Berlin Radio - in 1965; Luciano Berio was its director for that summer and I was one of two pianists covering the group?s needs (the other was Frederic Rzewski). Session IV was intended for the Juilliard Repertory Ensemble (formed by Berio) on its 1967 European tour, with Dennis Russell Davies as conductor.

Its use of musical quotations - short extracts from Beethoven?s piano Eroica Variations and several snippets I wrote in the styles of Schubert and classic ragtime?s James Scott - caused a violent scandal at the Ensemble?s appearance at the Royan Festival in France. The frank tonality of the Beethoven and faux-Schubert and Scott sections necessitated the Ensemble?s having to start the performance over three times because of the ensuing riot; at one point I?m told an elderly woman climbed onstage, grabbed the bass drum mallet, whacked the drum, and sat down to applause and catcalls. I?ve always regretted not being there for my scandal, unlike Stravinsky who because of the pandemonium caused by the Paris premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps in 1913 had to escape the theater through the rear door. Session IV is dedicated to my friend the late Pennsylvania composer George Rochberg, whose pioneering use of such quotations heralded the loosening of total chromaticism?s stranglehold on new music on both sides of the Atlantic.

Additional Information

Commission Pierre Boulez?s Paris-based Domaine Musical in its residency in 1965 at the Westdeutsche Rundfunk
Composition Date 1967
Orchestration Cl. Tbn. 2Vla. Vcl. Hp. Pno. 2Perc. Tape (prepared by performers)
Premiere 1968. Juilliard Repertory Ensemble, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies

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