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The Anatomy of a 21st-Century American Piano Concerto

My thoughts on the recently finished work, "The Baku Concerto for Piano and Orchestra" are currently fresh in my mind, and the importance of the compositional process needs to be documented as time has a habit of refocusing the mind on newer vistas to climb. A work that is in "homage" to another composer can be deceptive as it requires much time and energy with the focus and a current understanding of the literature of a composer that lived in a different time period and was influenced by a culture that no longer exists. Each new work of all composers can not be written in a bubble, music like all "art" is a reflection of a moment in time and the cultural relationships that the composer experiences during their own lifetime. Replicating the process of a composer from the past requires much study of the composer's compositional path during their lifetime. It also can easily lead to confusion and lack of understanding of a work that reflects an earlier time. In other words, a work that tends to exhibit qualities pastiche in nature.


 

My writing has not used key signatures for nearly two decades as I find their use restrictive in my compositional process.

As with all my new works I focus on "sound" in an abstract way ~ refinement takes a backseat to form and structure which I have always struggled with and still do. The process never becomes straightforward, it should never be easy. The compositional process of writing music has never been a given to me. I follow my instincts and the form of each work results from partitions and parameters that I set in a constantly changing process that could proceed in a thousand different directions. The original "cell" of each of my works begins as an organic growth process that personal years of experience have taught me to move slowly and steps backward are equally as important as progress and forward movement. This work involved a depth of understanding of the body of work of Jovdat Hajiyev. His knowledge of the purity of classical form and the ingredients of improvisational aspects of the folk music of Azerbaijan were always in the back of my mind during the entire writing process. Modal flourishes of sound that imitate traditional folk instruments and exotic harmonic and rhythmical treatment of melodic ideas all led to a work that I do hope he would have approved of.


 

The Baku Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was written in "homage" to the great Azerbaijani composer Jovdat Hajiyev (1917 - 2002). He is remembered for his monumental orchestral works, having been the first Azerbaijani composer to compose a symphony in 1936, and he was also a student of the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. His staggering musical output includes symphonies, string quartets, and a number of brilliant piano works that reflect the folk music of Azerbaijan based on using a system of melodic modes and motifs in free and improvisational formal structures. Jovdat Hajiyev's wealth of instrumental works represents the "Voice" of Azerbaijan as a master composer of the Twentieth Century.





 

The First Movement of the Baku Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Allegro Fuoco)



The Second Movement of the Baku Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Adagio Majestueux)



The Third Movement of the Baku Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Allegro Energico)








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