composition

Sighs and Sorrows (Sonata No. 2)

for Violin and Piano

  • Genre
    Chamber
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Glenn Basham
  • Year completed
    1987
  • Year revised
    2010
  • Timing
    15:50
  • Catalog number
    132
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Sighs and Sorrows, my second Sonata for Violin and Piano, was written on commission by Glenn Basham, a violinist I'd known when we were both students at the same high school in Florida (although Glenn is several years my junior). Years later, Glenn moved to Indiana, studying violin at Indiana University, at which time we became re-acquainted. He later took a position as concertmaster of the Ft. Wayne Symphony Orchestra, and at that time premiered what later became my String Quartet after Mendelssohn with the quartet drawn from the principal string players of that orchestra. Around that time, he asked me for a violin sonata that would commemorate the lives of unborn infants who were being killed in their mothers' wombs, and as someone who is firmly in the pro-life camp myself, I was happy to undertake the commission. The sonata is in three movements, each of which attempts to tell a story. The first movement depicts a young woman who becomes pregnant under less-than-idea circumstances, and the sometimes turgid, and sometimes relaxed mood of the movement portrays the struggle going on within this woman's mind as to whether or not to abort her baby. The second movement, a violent movement full of anguish, depicts the actual abortion itself. It is therefore not meant to be "pretty" music. The final movement depicts the woman's mental anguish at having destroyed the life of the human being that was growing within her (as eventually do 93% of American women). The end of the movement includes an irregular statement of the children's hymn, "Jesus Loves Me," played in harmonics above an almost atonal music box-like passage in the piano. The movement ends with a short rough sound created by scraping a credit card along one of the bass strings in the piano. This signifies the fact that the effects of abortion upon a person can last indefinitely.

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