This Quintet is a summation of my work as an undergraduate. The work contains a plethora of tributes to and quotes of other composers, as well as quotes of my own work, all of which are tied together with original material to create a musical-dramatic structure that is nearly symphonic in size.
The most prominent quote is the primary rhythmic motive from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. As is for many musicians and music lovers, that symphony holds a special place in my soul, and here this motive is meant to invoke the same as in his work: a sense of fate, perhaps the absurdity of life, ever present. In addition to this particular motive, there are various other quotations of the symphony in this work.
Another important musical theme is Why fum’th in fight, a tune by the 16th century English composer Thomas Tallis. This theme was made famous by Ralph Vaughan Williams in his work Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. This musical theme is one I have listened to as long as I have been an admirer of Classical music, and, since it deeply resonates with my inner ear, I felt compelled to place it in this work.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the debt that this work owes to the music of composer David Maslanka. With many references to his own musical language, including both a prominent use of Old Hundredth (which I first heard in his Fourth Symphony) as well as various references to his Ninth Symphony, I am deeply in debt to his music. This Quintet fully reflects this.
There are many other small quotes, especially of my own music. Overall, however, the work is not meant to be a “quotation collage” as has been done many times before. These quotations are to me powerful symbols for my musical being, the combination of which is meant to serve a greater musical narrative.
In the end, I hope this work to be a journey from cynicism and despair to an affirmation of love and life.
This work was premiered by Sara Baumbauer, Seiji Cataldo, Josh Wareham, Audrey Slote, Erin Roe, and Jesse Brault at Urness Recital Hall, St. Olaf College, on April 12, 2013.