Ode to Arnold 

Composed in: 2014
Instrumentation: Cellos (3)
Commissioned by: Splntrd Wood
Premiered by: Splntrd Wood (First movement)
Anne Suda, Jeffrey Ho, Eunice Heo (Complete premiere)
Publisher: C. Swigart Music

Program Notes

OK, so yeah, I wrote a 12-tone piece! I’m not sure quite what got into me, after not having written anything serial since 1974, but when the cello trio Splntrd Wood (Pierre Derycz, Matthew Park, and Ian Gottlieb) asked me to write a short piece for their third annual summer concert in 2015, I got the idea that it would be a fun challenge to see if I could write a 12-tone piece that would be different from my distant last experience. This one would have to be not only music that I’d genuinely like, but that would also be fun to write. Challenge accepted! They premiered the first movement, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to add three more.

For those who care about such things, the row and its various permutations are faithfully adhered to in the first three movements—in fact, in The Matrix, the music travels through each and every prime version of the row (thus, its title). In the final movement, Shall We Dance?, the row exists primarily as the bassline to a decidedly non-serial chord progression, though it makes an appearance in its entirety towards the end as the melody, just as it fades away as the bassline.

The third movement, for A.B.A., is dedicated to one of my important composition teachers and my mentor, Alden Banning Ashforth (1933-2016), who died a few weeks after the composition of this movement. And the final movement, Shall We Dance?, is dedicated to my mother, Dolly Carlson, who, at age 92 deserves a special dance in her honor.

Next 12-tone piece, due in 2056.  

Ode to Arnold was given its complete premiere by Anne Suda, Jeffrey Ho, and Eunice Heo on a UCLA Faculty Composers concert in 2015.