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Ulysses Kay’s Concerto for Orchestra: A Timbre Concerto – Lyric Say

American composer Ulysses Kay (1917–1995) studied with Paul Hindemith at Tanglewood and Yale and, following WWII, With Otto Leuning at Columbia. From 1946 to 1952, he was in Rome, having gained the Prix de Rome not as soon as however two occasions in a row. As a substitute of going into instructing, he labored for BMI, the performing rights group, first as an editorial advisor after which as a music guide. Whereas there, he was appointed by the US State Division to be a part of a delegation travelling to the Soviet Union to fulfill Soviet composers. The group’s 30-day tour took them to Leningrad, Moscow, Kiev in Ukraine, and Tbilisi in Georgia. In 1968, Kay joined the school at Lehman School, CUNY, the place he taught for the subsequent twenty years.

Ulysses Kay

Ulysses Kay

Kay’s Concerto for Orchestra was composed in 1948, at some extent the place the post-war composers had been deciding on new instructions: the avant-garde and experimental (Messiaen and Boulez), stochasticism (Xenakis), simply pure experimentalism (Cage). Composers went past enjoying with melody and concord to exploring timbre, texture, rhythm, and the opposite fundamental parts of music. The break up affected audiences, too, who had an more and more troublesome time following composers down the trail of music, as there was now not a shared language.

In American music because the Twenties, widespread music, akin to jazz, was making its affect felt on classical music. The inclusion of African American music exterior of jazz was additionally a risk.

Fortunately, neo-classicism turned a saving grace for each composers and audiences. Beginning with Les Six in France, who selected to not comply with the trail of the Second Viennese College into atonality, 12-tone system, and serialism, neo-classicism permitted composers to make use of Seventeenth- and 18th-century genres and equally outdated types and strategies to provide their use of a distinctly fashionable harmonic system a foundation for improvement. Avoiding the surplus of Romanticism and utilizing the weather of music and musical type gave fashionable composers a strategy to transfer ahead and produce their audiences with them.

The place a Baroque concerto may set a small group of devices and a standard concerto units a single instrument in opposition to the orchestra, a concerto for orchestra permits the composer to make use of many devices as a soloist. In Kay’s Concerto for Orchestra, against this to each Baroque and conventional types, he makes use of households of devices (brass, woodwinds, and strings) as his soloists, utilizing their differing timbres as their solo voices. As well as, he makes use of texture as some extent of distinction.

The quick opening begins this course of with the strings on the fore.

Ulysses Kay: Concerto for Orchestra – I. Toccata: Allegro moderato (Royal Scottish Nationwide Orchestra; Kellen Grey, cond.)

The second motion begins with the woodwinds, first clarinets, then flutes. The strings enter subsequent, countering the woodwinds. Every household of the orchestra has a job and has its personal part of the motion. After a brass chorale-like part and a climax on a dissonant chord, the orchestra drops out, and we end as we start: woodwinds and strings.

Ulysses Kay: Concerto for Orchestra – II. Arioso: Adagio (Royal Scottish Nationwide Orchestra; Kellen Grey, cond.)

Taking his ultimate motion from a Seventeenth-century Baroque bass sample, the passacaglia, Kay constructs a variation motion, once more contrasting households of devices. After the introduction, every variation builds till, by the tip of the 2nd variation, the complete orchestra has entered and builds to a short climax. The following variation begins with the woodwinds, then the brass, beginning with the French horn, proclaims the ultimate variation. He builds with counterpoint that turns into more and more dense in texture and dissonant in concord till the sensible brass conclusion.

Ulysses Kay: Concerto for Orchestra – III. Passacaglia: Andante (Royal Scottish Nationwide Orchestra; Kellen Grey, cond.)

If you distinction this work with Bartók’s written simply 5 years earlier, we will see how Kay’s use of households of devices, moderately than sections of devices, offers this concerto for orchestra a extra unified really feel. By contrasting bigger however equally sounding teams, Kay offers himself a bigger soloist drive – it may be damaged down into particular person sorts of devices or used en masse. Using neo-Classical fashion makes it each accessible and fashionable for the listener.

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