Creative Works

Exordium, Book I

For solo piano, seven movements (2007) 16:45
Nathan Hess, piano

The title Exordium references the beginning or introductory part of a discourse.  The composition, written for solo piano, is a set of variations based on the Sarabande movement from the keyboard Partita in B flat Major by JS Bach. Considering Bach to be seminal, the title for this group of variations seems appropriate.

The music begins with Premise making clear references to the Sarabande source.  Four    relatively brief character pieces suggesting the Baroque dance suite (Allemande, Fantasia come una Giga, Pensieroso, and a lyrical Arioso) are followed by a quodlibet based on a text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.  Exordium closes with a summation entitled Epiphany.

Melodic motives and rhythmic cell developments from the model Sarabande form the principal musical materials of the character pieces.  A detailed study of the durational development of the Sarabande, gestural and textural elements of the gigue from the same partita and certain musics observed within the Well Tempered Klavier, Book II, form the genesis of the Exordium variations.

The Goethe text is a stanza taken from Selige Sehnsucht (Blessed Longing).  The sentiment expressed in the poetry is an emphasis of the concept of constant and continuing rebirth and discovery quintessential to the basis of creativity.

And as long as you do not have this,
Die and be reborn!
You are only a dreary guest
On this dark earth.

Exordium begins with strong references to the source material in Bb Major, moves through increasingly harmonically investigative variants and returns at the conclusion to reiterate the tonality with which it began while making clear references to the dotted rhythm and accent on the second beat of a measure characteristic of the sarabande form and in high profile within the music chosen as model.

Copyright © 2008 Donald Bohlen.

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