Sonata for Horn and Piano

  • Genre
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Abigail Ray
  • Year completed
  • Year revised
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    known performances
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My Sonata for Horn and Piano came at a critical juncture in my creative career, as it helped launch me into writing sonatas for a number of instruments for which I had previously not written. Prior to this work, I'd written only sonatas for trumpet, alto saxophone (both also written in 2000), trombone, and violin. My goal is to write a sonata for every standard instrument before I quit this earth. The present Sonata for Horn and Piano was written for the horn-playing daughter of Dan Ray, one of the long-time employees of my record business, Ars Antiqua. Abigail Ray played horn throughout her high school years, and I intended originally to write a short occasional piece for her. As I got into the piece, my conception of it kept growing, until it became obvious to me that I was actually writing a sonata for the instrument. At that point, I gave up any attempt to make the piece playable by a talented high school player, and concentrated instead on writing a piece that would appeal to advanced performers on the horn. In the meantime, though, I had discovered that the musical letters drawn from the name of the dedicatee (noting that the German note "B" is "B-flat" in English notation) produced the phrase, A-Bb-G-A, combined with D (from Ray or Re), an attractive theme for the opening of the first movement. The same notes, with some octave displacement and change in rhythm, also yielded a nice opening theme for the second movement. In addition, movement II uses a D pedal point in the left hand of the piano part throughout the entire movement, along the lines of the pedal G# used throughout "The Old Castle" in Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The premiere of the sonata was given by hornist Ted Honea and pianist Gene Moon at a festival of my music arranged by Dr. James L. Klages at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond in 2001.

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