The William Paterson College music department was a hub of 20th century musical activity for several reasons, and I became an active student composer during my years there and then at Stony Brook University as a graduate student. My compositions are for solo instruments, duos, a string quartet, percussion ensemble, and orchestra. Audio links and scores for a few of these pieces are located to the right, you can click links to listen and also read the score. I have also recently completed and self-published a 'recomposition' of four Chopin Mazurkas for string quartet, available through amazon.com books. This piece is at the top of the list, the subsequent pieces are in chronological order beginning with the String Quartet composed in 1977 and performed the next year.
At William Paterson, under the leadership of Jeffrey Kresky and Raymond Des Roches, composition students were fortunate to receive a good live performance when a work was completed. Accordingly, we prepared scores and parts and also participated in rehearsals, and sometimes in performances as either instrumentalist or conductor. In that sense, I started as composer but also became a performer and conducted two of my scores when in graduate school at SUNY Stony Brook. I remain deeply grateful to all the performers of my music.
Four Mazurkas by Fryderyk Chopin, Recomposed for String Quartet (2021)
- Four Mazurkas by Fryderyk Chopin, Recomposed for String Quartet
- The Hudson Valley String Quartet
NotesThis work was written in commemoration of my father's centenary; he was born in 1921. The individual mazurkas are dedicated to the members of my Polish family: #1 to my grandmother Helena Kłopotowska, #2 to my grandfather, Edward Kłopotowski, #3 to my aunt Janina Kłopotowska, and #4 to my father. The recording was made by the Hudson Valley String Quartet, I am grateful to them for their excellent performance and work to realize the score. The published version of the full score and parts is available on amazon.
String Quartet in Two Movements (1977)
- String Quartet in Two Movements - complete recording
- The Maranda String Quartet (please excuse analog audio, this recording has historic value)
In 1977 I composed a string quartet while studying with Jeffrey Kresky. In a surprising series of events the quartet was performed in April 1978 by the Maranda Quartet, on a chamber music concert that was part of the annual festival of contemporary music held each spring.
I had distributed a few of my scores to faculty members the previous fall, and was honored when Ray Des Roches let me know that there was funding available for a performance. We found the Maranda Quartet through a connection with the Group for Contemporary Music in New York and engaged them; they would play the Webern Six Bagatelles for String Quartet along with my piece as part of a program of varied works by Kresky, Crumb, and Wuorinen.
I hoped for a usable tape of the performance, and the only option was to record the quartet on a "boom box" placed within twenty feet of the performers. I have kept this cassette since then, and recently revisited to digitize despite some damage. The recording reveals a highly skilled and excellent performance, and enthusiastic response, and the immediacy of the appreciation by the audience is very gratifying.
I have also recently digitized the original hard copies of my manuscripts, and the piece is now self-published as a condensed version on amazon.com, available at this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HGPPQ8Q . If any string players would like a set of parts for the quartet, please contact me. I offer my deep gratitude to Jeff Kresky, Ray Des Roches, the members of the Maranda Quartet, and Pete Jarvis for all of their help and support in bringing this piece to life.
Percussion Sextet (1978)
- Percussion Sextet Movement I
- Percussion Sextet complete recording
- Percussion Sextet Movement II
- Percussion Sextet Movement III
- The New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Bruce Tatti - conductor
The Percussion Sextet was a suggestion from my close friend Bruce Tatti, a percussion major at both William Paterson and Stony Brook. He let me know that if I were to write for percussion ensemble, that likely the Stony Brook group would perform the work. Bruce was at Stony Brook one year before I arrived and we were in close contact during that time. We settled on a group of six players, and I took liberally from the guidance of Charles Wuorinen's writing for percussion in that I divided the ensemble generally in half between pitched and non-pitched instruments. The 'front line' consisted of 2 vibraphones and marimba, and the back line had one percussionist playing six drums, another playing six metal instruments, and the last part has a combination of chimes, glockenspiel, snare drum, and string drum.
I summoned up my courage and decided to conduct the ensemble, and we began rehearsing in late August of 1978, with weekly Wednesday night rehearsals through the following May. I had composed the first two movements when we started rehearsing, and finished the third movement in December. At the risk of sensationalizing, this was a truly amazing experience for me. It was my first time conducting anything, and I appreciated everyone's patience. But, we all very definitely learned the music, and gave two excellent and well-received performances in May of 1979.
The piece was subsequently performed at William Paterson College in 1981 with Bruce Tatti conducting, and again in 1983 at Symphony Space in New York with Eddie Fay conducting.
Chamber Piece for Four Players (1979-80)
- Chamber Piece for Four Players
- Robert Avery - flute, Daniel Kennedy - percussion, Daniel Zollars - cello, George Fisher - piano, David Milnes - conductor
This piece originated as an informal double-commission when I was at Stony Brook; flutist Bob Avery and percussionist Dan Kennedy asked if I might write a chamber piece for them to play on a joint recital. I also wanted to write again for cello, there were many gifted cellists at Stony Brook studying with faculty members Bernard Greenhouse and Timothy Eddy, and grad student Dan Zollars agreed to play my piece. Pianist George Fisher was a fixture at Stony Brook and played many premieres of new compositions. He is featured in two of my works, this quartet and the Duo for Violin and Piano.
The quartet received three performances, and an interesting footnote is that two performances were conducted by then-graduate conducting student David Milnes. He then studied at Yale and is now Dr. Milnes, and has gone on to a fantastic and impressive conducting career. He is currently Professor of Music and department chair at UC Berkeley, and Music Director of the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. I am forever indebted to Dr. Milnes, Bob Avery, Dan Kennedy, Dan Zollars, and George Fisher for this performance, and also to Professor John Lessard for his guidance while composing this piece.
Symphony in Three Parts (1982)
- Symphony in Three Parts
- Stony Brook Graduate Chamber Orchestra, David Lawton - conductor
My symphony was the last premier that I enjoyed, in February of 1984, and I am forever indebted to David Lawton, all of the musicians in the orchestra, and also John Lessard for his teaching. I realize now how rare an experience of this sort is, and what an honor it was to have my music performed. I had composed this work in 1981 while studying with Professor Lessard, and gave a copy of the score to Stony Brook Graduate Orchestra conductor David Lawton, but I did not hold out any hope that it would be performed due to the size of the project. As a result, I prepared the score but did not work on a set of parts due to the labor involved.
I then received a call from Dr. Lawton in the fall of 1983 saying that he had programmed the piece for a February 1984 concert, and asked for the parts. This was a shock but I promised to create them, and this was when I learned of a grant program available from the American Music Center in New York City.
I was able to secure the grant and engaged New York copyist Stephen Dydo to assist. The performance was quite successful, and I remain so very grateful to David Lawton and the players.