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Guitar music

 

Solo guitar

Variations On A Moldavian Hora
Dror Yikro
Roderick Usher’s ‘Phantasmion'
Trois Tableaux d’Andersen
Air
DADGAD

Two guitars  
Portrait of a Young Woman                  
Three guitars  

          Trio (for three guitars)
XXXxVariations On ‘Non a tempo d’aspettare’    

Four guitars

Guitar Quartet No. 8 (aka 'Canciones Melancólicos’)
Guitar Quartet No. 7 (aka ‘The Civil Guard’)
Guitar Quartet No. 6 (aka ‘La Corrida’)
Labyrinth (On A Theme of Led Zeppelin) (aka ‘Guitar Quartet No. 5’)
Folías (aka ‘Guitar Quartet No. 4’)
Bulerías (aka ‘Guitar Quartet No. 3’)
Antique Suite (After Neuseidler) (aka ‘Guitar Quartet No. 2’)
Guitar Quartet No. 1
Guitar Quartet No. 10 (aka "Music in Four Sharps")
StarWaves - Second Labyrinth, On A Theme of Nick Drake (aka "Guitar Quartet No. 10")
Music in Four Sharps (aka "Guitar Quartet No. 9")
StarWaves (Second Labyrinth, On A Theme of Nick Drake) (aka "Guitar Quartet No. 10")


Guitar and Orchestra       

Chiacona

Two guitars and orchestra

Fantasía Federico García Lorca  Music for voice          

Four guitars and orchestra

Cantiga Variations (Fractal On An Ancient Spanish Song) Orchestral music

Guitar and flute

Da Chara
Air

Guitar and String Quartet

Music in Four Sharps

Guitar and organ

Chiacona

Guitar and piano

Planxty Heather MacLaughlin and Alan Johnston

Guitar and voice

Cuando se abre en la mañana Music for voice
Villançicos, Book II Music for voice
Villançicos, Book I
Music for voice

Guitar and violin

Da Chara
Air
Incantation and Fire Dance

Two Guitars and flute

Sonata-Fantasy (On A Sephardic Theme)

Four guitars and voice

Guitar Quartet No. 8 (aka “Canciones Melancólicos’)
Guitar Quartet No. 7 (aka ‘The Civil Guard’)
Guitar Quartet No. 6 (aka ‘La Corrida’)

 

Transcriptions and arrangements

Transcriptions for solo guitar
Johann Christian Bach   Minuetto in D-major
J.S. Bach
Aria in e-minor
Minuet in G-major
Partita in a-minor (original for flute in a-minor) (as performed by Liona Boyd)
Partita in e-minor (original for flute in a-minor)
Two Little Preludes
François Couperin                 
Three Harpsichord Pieces

Alexander Scriabin           

Prelude, Op. 16, No.4 (original for piano)

 

Transcriptions for two guitars (as performed by members of the De Falla Trio)

Johannes Brahms

Sarabande (original for piano)

Claude Debussy

Prelude VI (original for piano)
Prelude VII (Dans le style et le Mouvement d’un Cake-Walk) (original for piano)
Prelude VIII (La Filles aux Cheveux de Lin) (original for piano)
Prelude IX (original for piano)

Maurice Ravel

Sonatine (1st: Modere) (original for piano)
Pavane for the Sleeping Beauty (from Mother Goose Suite) (original for piano four hands)
Pavane for a Dead Princess (original for piano/orchestra)

Enrique Granados        

Spanish Dance No. 1 (Menuet) (original for piano)
Spanish Dance No. 2 (Oriental) (original for piano)
Spanish Dance No. 4 (Villanesca) (original for piano)
Spanish Dance No. 5 (Andaluza – Playera (original for piano)
Spanish Dance No. 6 (Jota – Rondalla Aragonesa) (original for piano)


Transcriptions for three guitars (as performed and recorded by the De Falla Trio)

Isaac Albeniz
Aragón (Fantasía) (original for piano)

J.S. Bach
Chorale Preludes: (originals for organ)
I. Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland
II. Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag
III. Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich
IV. Jesu, meine Freunde
V. Wenn wir in Höchstein Nötes sein
VI. Christ lag in Todesbanen
VII. Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn
VIII. Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ Concerto in D – after Ernest (Allegro, Grave, and Presto) (original for organ)Concerto in E-flat major (original for organ)Fugue in A-minor (student level) (original for clavier)Prelude No. XIII (from WTC) (original for clavier)

John Bull                                 
In Nomine (original for virginal)
Manuel De Falla
                     
Suite from “El Amor Brujo” (original for orchestra)
Pantomime
Will-o-the-wisp
Dance of Terror
Fisherman’s Song
Dance of Love’s Play
Ritual Fire Dance
Suite from “The Three Cornered Hat” (original for orchestra)
The Neighbors’ Dance (Seguidillas)
The Miller’s Dance (Farruca)
Dance of the Corregidor
Dance of the Miller’s Wife (Fandango)
Spanish Dance from “La Vida Breve” (original for orchestra)
Enrique Granados
Spanish Dance No. 3 (Zarabanda) (original for piano)
Spanish Dance No. 12 (Arabesca) (original for piano)

Franz Josef Haydn          

Trio 97 (Fatto por la felicissima nascita di S:Al:S: Prencipe Esterhazi) (original for baryton trio)

W.A. Mozart                           

Andante in F-major K.V. Nr. 616 (original for piano)
Divertimento K. 136 (Allegro, Andante, Presto) (original for strings)
Eine Kleine Gigue K.V. 574 (original for piano)
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Allegro, Romanze, Menuet, Rondo) (original for strings)
Menuett in D-major K.V. Nr. 355 (original for piano)
Domenico Scarlatti                  
Cat’s Fugue (original for harpsichord)
Sonata in d-minor (original for harpsichord)
           Antonio Soler                          
Fandango (original for harpsichord)

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC
Georg Philipp Telemann
Triosonate in F-major (Largo, Allegro, Largo, Allegro)
Antonio Vivaldi (arr. Bach)      
Concerto in D-minor (Allegro, Adagio, Allegro) (original for organ)
Sonata in g-minor (Preludio, Corrente, Grave, Giga)

 

Transcriptions for three guitars and orchestra (as performed by the De Falla Guitar Trio

Georg Philipp Telemann           

Concerto in F-major


Transcriptions for four guitars

William Byrd                           
The Carman’s Whistle (original for virginal)
Manuel De Falla
Ritual Fire Dance/Danza Ritual del Fuego (as performed by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet) (original for orchestra)
Georges Bizet                          
La Toupie, Op. 22, No. 2 (original for piano four hands)
Claude Debussy                      
Marionettes (original for voice and piano)
Maurice Ravel             
Menuet Antique (original for piano/orchestra)
Alexander Tcherepnin  
Bagatelle (Op. 5, No. 5) (student level) (original for piano)

Transcriptions for five guitars 

J.S. Bach                                 

‘Mache dich, mein Herze rein’ (from the St. Mathew Passion) 

Solo Guitar Music

Variations On A Moldavian Hora (1992)    [7’]

Commissioned by the Guitar Foundation of America as the set piece for the 1992 Annual Guitar Competition.

First recording by Jason Vieaux, ‘Laureate Series – Guitar’, Naxos 8.553449, released December, 1996.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Duration: 7’

Program notes and performance history:

The Variations On A Moldavian Hora was commissioned by the Guitar Foundation of America in 1992 as a competition set-piece.  As such it was premiered by four young competitors, including the winner, Canadian guitarist, Jason Vieaux, who described the piece as "one of the most challenging pieces I have ever performed."  The theme, taken from a collection of klezmer melodies, is embellished with rarely used harmonics, florid accompaniments underneath the melody (an unusual texture for the guitar), and simultaneous double trills for the left and right hands.  Many such set-pieces are forgotten, but the Variations has begun to establish itself in the repertoire and has been championed by guitarists Randall Avers, Alberto Mesirca, Harold Micay, Joshua Millard, Gordon O’Brien and Jason Vieaux, among others.  It has been recorded at least three times.

Reviews:
"The North American composer Ian Krouse’s "Variations On A Moldavian Hora" was commissioned as a competition piece by the Guitar Foundation of America.  The competition winner Jason Vieaux has elected to include this impressive work here.  The guitar repertoire is further enriched by works of this quality…"
Andy Daly, CLASSICAL CD REVIEWS, March, 1999
 
"Variations On A Moldavian Hora has rightfully earned its way into the repertoire beyond its role as the 1992 Guitar Foundation of America set piece.  Vieaux calls this piece one of the most challenging pieces he has ever performed, yet here these challenges are never evident, as the music flows with grace and fluidity."
William Clements, GFA SOUNDBOARD, Summer, 1998
 
"The apparent ‘misfit’ is the work by Ian Krouse, far removed from Latin America, but why should music of this quality be excluded for whatever reason?  It is included for the best of reasons, because the performer loves it and is right to do so.  The theme is Moldavian and the language of the imaginative and technically punishing variations matches it."
John Duarte, GRAMOPHONE, November, 1997

“This CD contains a collection of mid to late twentieth-century compositions by composers of the Americas.  Though most of the compositions are well-known guitar staples…some spice is thrown in, as in Ian Krouse’s Variations on a Moldavian Hora.  Those of us in college and playing competitions in the early 90’s will remember this piece well, but it’s well worth another listen.  The piece is difficult, but the fine playing allows one to see that behind this mask is a well-designed, interesting piece.”
Andrew Hill, GUITARRA MAGAZINE, Spring, 2007

Dror Yikro (1992)
Commissioned and premiered by William Kanengiser, Schoenberg Auditorium, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, May, 1992.

First recording by William Kanengiser, ‘Echoes of the Old World’, GSP 1006CD, released Spring, 1993.

Published by Peer Southern Music

Duration: 6’

Reviews:
"…he achieves a great depth of emotion and wonderful sonorities with his ersatz cantorial keening, based on a 10th century Hassidic song."
John Schneider, GFA SOUNDBOARD, Winter, 1995

Program notes and performance history:

In December of 1991, my friend William Kanengiser asked me to consider writing a piece for his CD "Echoes of the Old World."  He felt that a program dedicated to Near-Eastern folk music would be incomplete without at least one piece drawn from the rich heritage of Ashkenazic Jewish musical tradition.  I hesitated to accept the commission immediately, for the simple reason that I was not sure I was the right person for the task.  However, I promised him that I would give it my serious attention. My first step was to pick the minds (and hearts) of my many Jewish friends.  They graciously opened their files of scores, tapes and books, and soon I had embarked upon a four-month odyssey through the world of Eastern European Jewish folk music.  My search led me to the extensive collection of folk music housed at the UCLA Music Library.  It was there that I found several pieces that intrigued me.  One of these, Dror Yikro, came to be the piece I wrote for Bill.  Another, a Moldavian Hora, would serve me a year later when I was commissioned by the Guitar Foundation of America for a set piece for the 1992 guitar competition in New Orleans.

Dror Yikro, or "Song of Freedom," is freely based upon an Chassidic song whose text dates from the tenth century.  If, in hearing this brief piece, the listener finds himself imagining a charismatic rabbi engaged in a passionate discussion with his followers, or, perhaps, the inspiring voice of a cantor leading the men of the village in bursts of spontaneous song, then I will have succeeded in communicating something of the images that fed my musical imagination when I was composing Dror Yikro.

 

Roderick Usher’s ‘Phantasmion’ (Grand Sonata ‘Quasi una fantasia’) Op. 25, 1836

Written for Scott Tennant who gave the world premiere of the original version on Wednesday, May 6, at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA.
Published by Ian Krouse Music.           
Score:            $18.00
Program notes and performance history:                                                                                 
  1. The Haunted Palace
  2. Dirge – Quasi una Passacaglia
  3. Impromptu Brilliante ‘Quasi Valser’ (on a theme of Von Weber)

Roderick Usher’s ‘Phantasmion’ was the result of one of my earliest ideas:  I recall clearly coming under the spell of Edgar Allen Poe sometime in elementary school.  I was particularly struck by Poe’s account of the mad English guitarist Roderick Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher).  Having just begun the serious study of the guitar myself,I immediately began improvising the sorts of weird dirges that Poe so vividly describes in the story.  Among other things, I tried detuning the guitar at random, and scraping my nails on the strings to aid my quest for the sorts of strange “unheard” harmonies that I imagined, and though this may have produced a bit of spontaneous, blissful microtonal cacophony (!) I never felt that I came even close to the wonderful music that Poe’s words conjured up.  After all, at that time I was far more interested in the Beatles and had hardly heard a note of Bartok or Stravinsky.  And so nothing came of the project at that time.  I at least had the sense to know that this was a task far beyond the technical and artistic capacity of my thirteen-year-old self.  Cut to the future:  I am now friends with one of the pre-eminent guitar virtuosos of our time, Scott Tennant.  With his encouragement I threw myself back into the eerie world of Poe’s bleak mid-nineteenth century England with s kind of frenzy, and simply allowed myself, once again, to be swept up in Poe’s wonderful musical imagery.  It was passages like the following that made this such an easy and enjoyable task:

 
Trois Tableaux d’Andersen (1982)

Written for the Annual Guitar Composition Competition conducted by Radio France in 1981, and dedicated to Agnes Narciso, who premiered the work during her European tour in 1989. Published by Ian Krouse Music
Score: $16.00 (includes optional narrations)

Duration: 20’ [ca. 27' with narrations]

Program notes and performance history:

Trois Tableaux d’Andersen (Three Scenes from Andersen) (1982) was one of my earliest extended pieces for solo guitar. Each of the three movements of Trois Tableaux d’Andersen is a tone poem in miniature, inspired by a well-known fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen. The work was written for the annual competition for new guitar works sponsored by Radio France. Although it was a finalist and not the winner, I was consoled by the fact that, had it not been for that opportunity, I might not have faced the daunting task of writing it at all. Even though I am a guitarist myself, and perhaps because of it, to this day composing for the solo guitar remains an intimidating prospect. The work is not strictly programmatic but rather a set of lingering impressions of these wonderful stories. The first piece, ‘Le Rossignol,’ (the nightingale), juxtaposes fast, busy sections which conjure up images of the hustle and bustle of the court of the mythical Chinese emperor, with lyrical episodes and murmuring cadenzas depicting the elusive beauty of the nightingale. In the second movement, ‘La Petite Fille aux Allumettes,’ (the little match girl), eerie pianissimo tremolos evoke the dying little girl’s futile efforts to warm herself with her few remaining matches. At the very end of the piece one can hear the last one flicker and then suddenly go out, leaving nothing but the freezing darkness of the night of New Year’s Eve. The final movement, ‘Les Souliers Rouges,’ (the red shoes), starts with a mysterious cadenza in which sounds of hymn singing and church bells soon give way to a macabre waltz, whose dynamic momentum dominates the rest of the movement. Agnes Narciso, to whom the work is dedicated, premiered the work in Holland in May, 1987, and championed the work in the late eighties and early nineties to great acclaim. Though originally written for six-string guitar the pieces were specially adapted for Ms. Narciso’s eight-string instrument. In performance she preceded each movement with a brief synopsis of the story, the text for which is included in the published score.

Review:

One of the most interesting items in her programme was “Trois Tableaux d’Andersen” by Ian Krouse, who dedicated it to her. The work was written in 1982 for the annual competition for new guitar music sponsored by Radio, France, where it became one of the finalists. Although he has written major works for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, this is his only completed work for solo guitar. Each of its three movements is a tone poem in miniature, inspired by a well-known fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen. The work is not strictly programmatic but rather a set of lingering impressions of these wonderful stories. The first piece, ‘Le Rossignol,’ (the nightingale), juxtaposes fast, busy sections which conjure up images of the hustle and bustle of the court of the mythical Chinese emperor, with lyrical episodes and murmuring cadenzas depicting the elusive beauty of the nightingale. In the second movement, ‘La Petite Fille aux Allumettes,’ (the little match girl), eerie pianissimo tremolos evoke the dying little girl’s futile efforts to warm herself with her few remaining matches. At the very end of the piece one can hear the last one flicker and then suddenly go out, leaving nothing but the freezing darkness of the night of New Year’s Eve. The final movement, ‘Les Souliers Rouges,’ (the red shoes), starts with a mysterious cadenza in which sounds of hymn singing and church bells soon give way to a macabre waltz, whose dynamic momentum dominates the rest of the movement. These pieces were originally written for six-string guitar but have been adapted for Agnes Narciso’s eight-string instrument. Usually Miss Narciso narrates the tales when she plays them in concert, and combined with her fairy-like appearance she knows how to create an atmosphere of delicate intimacy. It is one of the most formidable guitar pieces in the repertoire, both because of its epic musical scope and its relentless virtuosity.”

Bauke Oosterhout, CLASSICAL GUITAR, March, 1989  

Air (1977)

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC

Premiered by Scott Tennant, Fret House, Los Angeles, California

First recording by Scott Tennant, “Wild Mountain Thyme,” Delos, DE 3207, released February, 1998.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Score $12.00

Duration: 4’

Program notes and performance history:

Air is the earliest in a series of pieces inspired by traditional Irish music. Though many are decidedly neo-Celtic, this, the first, sounds fairly authentic. Though originally conceived for performance by an Irish band, it has most often been performed in an arrangement for solo guitar, and, in that form, has been championed by guitarist Scott Tennant. It is also performed in arrangements for flute and guitar, and flute and harp. It was written for and dedicated to Laurie Jeffs, the composer’s first wife.

 

Music for Two Guitars

Portrait of a Young Woman (1993) (two guitars) 

Commissioned and premiered by Julian Gray and Ronald Pearl, Shenandoah Conservatory, Oct. 6, 1996.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Score: $25.00

Duration: 13’

Program notes and performance history:

Portrait of A Young Woman was commissioned and premiered by Julian Gray and Ron Pearl. It is largely made by "deconstructing" Dowland’s famous lute solo, the "Frog Galliard" as an elaborate canon for two guitars. Although I don’t think it is possible – or reasonable – to hear the piece as a canon, given the vast distance in time between the "leader" (Guitar 1) and the "follower" (Guitar 2), both guitarists play essentially the same part. I remember musing as I wrote the piece, over the very reasonable possibility of the two players practicing their parts in unison! The "Frog Galliard" is one of those unusual pieces in the western canon which has no accidentals – not one – using only the notes of an E-major scale. I had often wondered whether or not it would be possible to "pull off" a larger work which remained in one scale throughout, without that fact being noticed, or worse, becoming tedious. The Portrait afforded me the chance to give this a try. Thus, for 13 minutes or so, the piece proceeds, like the Dowland upon which it is extracted, entirely in the key of E-major, though its modal orientation does "modulate" to G#-Phrygian for a long stretch in the middle, before concluding back in E.

Reviews:

"The most remarkable piece…was an Ian Krouse work, "Portrait of A Young Woman"…based on the "Frog Galliard" by John Dowland, although the tune does not become recognizable until the middle." GFA SOUNDBOARD, Summer, 1997

 
Music for Three Guitars

.Trio for Three Guitars (1981)

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC

Commissioned by the Gaudeamus Festival Week and premiered by the Gitaartrio Dik Visser at the Museum Boymans van Beuningen in Rotterdam on September 13, 1981. 

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score:       $19.00
Parts:        $38.00

Program notes and performance history:

Following its successful premiere in the Netherlands, the Trio for Three Guitars was substantially revised and became a staple of the performing repertoire of the de Falla Guitar Trio (of which the composer was a founding member) and was performed to critical acclaim at the trio’s New York debut in 1985, as well as in masterclasses conducted by Witold Lutoslawski and Pierre Boulez, both of whom had much praise for the highly virtuosic and, for its time, quite unusual work.  Its extensive use of rapid-fire hocketing and antiphonal panning makes it a precursor to later works such as Bulerías, and, as with most of the guitar ensemble pieces, this one assumes the form of a continuous movement despite the fact that a close listen reveals several discernable ‘proto-movements.’  Later, the composer transcribed the Trio as his Toccatta for two pianos, which was premiered by pianists Vicky Ray and Laura Bell at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, April 18, 1987. The two-piano version was awarded First Prize in the National Association of Music Club’s National ‘Young Composer’s Competition’ in 1988.

Reviews:

“The Trio for Three Guitars” by the American Ian Krouse turned out to be a captivating piece, compact and strongly set up with a very effective use of the three instruments.  Sparkling arpeggios and many contrasts made these miniature pieces a real pleasure.” ALGAMEEN DAGBLAD, 1981

“Mr. Krouse composed an imaginative and virtuosic Trio especially for his ensemble.” Tim Page, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 13, 1984

Variations on ‘Non a tempo d’aspettare’ (for three guitars) 1981

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Written in 1981 for the de Falla Guitar Trio.

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score:       $8.00
Parts:        $15.00

Duration: 6’

Program notes and performance history:

The Variations on ‘Non a tempo d’aspettare’ started off as an arrangement and ended up as a composition.  Though modest in scope and not at all difficult to play, it does make an attractive recital piece that is entirely suitable for an advanced student ensemble.


Music for Four Guitars

Guitar Quartet No. 8 (Canciones Melancólicos) (soprano and four guitars) (1996)

Premiered by Michele Williams, soprano, Iren Arutyunyan, Taylor Ballenger, Colin Davin, Tim Dobby, guitars, ‘Pepe Romero Masterclass,’  USC Thornton School of Music, Los Angeles, April 11, 2006.

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score:       $19.00
Parts:        $38.00

Duration: 18’

Program notes and performance history: The ‘Canciones Melancolicos’ is an arrangement of the soprano arias from the music I wrote for the 1988 Bilingual Foundation of the Arts’ Los Angeles productions of Lorca’s Mariana Pineda.  (It also exists in a version with piano accompaniment entitled ‘Songs from Mariana Pineda.’)  The work was given two premiere performances by a superb group of USC students in 2006 with an enthusiastic Maestro Pepe Romero in attendance.

The romantic, folkloric style is characteristic of the many songs I wrote for productions of Lorca plays in the eighties and early nineties.

Text and translation

Guitar Quartet No. 7 (aka 'The Civil Guard') (low voice and four guitars)

Premiered by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet with Tom Speckhard, baritone, Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, March 6, 1999.

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score:       $19.00
Parts:        $38.00  

Duration: 11’

Program notes and performance history:

The Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard is a concert arrangement, for guitar quartet and low voice, of a scene from my opera Lorca, Child of the Moon. The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet premiered this version with American baritone Tom Speckard at Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University, in St. Paul, Minnesota, on March 6, 1999, and has subsequently performed it several times.

In the opera it is sung by a mezzo-soprano and baritone soloist with chorus, and is intended to be richly and powerfully choreographed, as it was by Mari Sandoval in the 1997 Los Angeles Production by the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts.  I remember feeling rather daunted by the density and power of the text, to say nothing of the length.  (Prior to this point I had never before set such an ambitious text.)  In the end, under great time pressure, I wrote the first two-thirds of the piece very quickly, having settled upon the rhythmic figure that starts things off. The final section of the piece was written after a lapse of a year or so.

The piece also exists in an arrangement for low voice and piano, a version that has been performed many times, mainly by mezzo-soprano Suzann Guzman, who premiered the role of ‘La Gitana’ in the opera, and for whom the concert version was made.

Text and translation

Guitar Quartet No. 6 (aka ‘La Corrida’)

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score:              $19
Parts:               $38

Duration: 6’

Program notes and performance history:

In the eighties and early nineties I composed dozens of songs and ensemble pieces for use in the bilingual (Spanish/English) productions of Lorca plays by the Los Angeles based Bilingual Foundation of the Arts.  Most of these pieces were written in a quasi-folkloric style and designed to be sung live to pre-recorded piano or guitar accompaniments.  It is full of high spirits and youthful intensity, appropriate to the character of the excitable and impressionable young woman who sings it in the play.

Text and translation

Labyrinth (On A Theme of Led Zeppelin) (AKA Guitar Quartet No. 5) (1994)  

Requested and premiered by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Andrew York, Mechanics Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, October 21, 1995.

First recording by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, ‘Labyrinth’, Delos, DE 3163, May, 1995.  

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Score       $50.00
Parts        $100.00

Duration: Long version (as recorded by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet) 23,’ short version (as performed by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet) 18’

Program notes and performance history:

Labyrinth, my fifth effort for four guitars, was written at the request of my ‘friends’ the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and represents the fulfillment of a long-held desire to do something personal and substantial with rock and roll materials.  For at least a decade I had mused over the possibility of composing a rock/blues piece utilizing a full battery of classical and modern compositional techniques.  Inspired by the unique musical and technical qualities of the LAGQ I finally mustered the courage.  The result is Labyrinth. I based my work on the song Friends by Led Zeppelin because its complex, exotic qualities resonated perfectly with my own compositional language.  The song became a kind of ‘portal’ between the often diametrically opposed worlds of rock ‘n’ roll and contemporary classical music.

The unusual scale upon which this work is based (C – D-flat – E – F# - G – A – B) is drawn from the ‘ritornello riff’ of the Led Zeppelin song, which is chanted near the outset of the piece.  I decided to use this melody as a kind of ‘cantus firmus.’  Furthermore, by rotating the seven-note scale upon which it is based, I created six other related modes that account for the majority of the melodic and harmonic materials in the work.  For instance, the ‘Boogie’ section (Part III) is based on the fifth rotation (A – B – C – D-flat – E – F# – G) while the "blues" (Part IV) is derived from the first, (D-flat – E – F# – G – A – B – C) and so on.  The large-scale structure is created by turning each of the nine notes of the ‘row’ into a lengthy harmonic region, establishing a giant labyrinth which must be successfully traversed before the final return to the original key of C!  This arrival home is celebrated by a manic fugue based upon another important motive of the Led Zeppelin song (C – E-flat – D – F – E – G – F#, etc.), which gradually transforms itself into a massive coda and a return to the song ‘Friends’.

In order to evoke accurately the world of acoustic rock and blues, the normal palette of classical guitar techniques has been expanded to include pitch-bending, micro-tonal inflections, de-tuned unisons, bottle-neck slides, unusual tunings (two of the players are tuned C – G – C – G – C – E), capos, improvisation, singing, and, most importantly, extensive use of flat picking.

Reviews:

"The most successful is Krouse’s tongue-in-cheek admixture of rock & roll with his classical compositional ingenuity – there are many surprises to be found."

John Schneider, GFA SOUNDBOARD, Fall, 1996

"On fresher turf, Ian Krouse’s "Labyrinth" takes, as a conceptual springboard, the Led Zeppelin song "Friends."  Rather than using the chamber-rock angle as a novelty, a la the Kronos Quartet’s "Purple Haze," the composer pays respects to Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page – one of rock’s great exotic riff-makers – by extending the harmonic language of the original tune. Extra-classical guitar effects abounded, with the use of picks, slides and open tuning, and a blues chord progression inserted in the middle seemed irrelevant.  But, in the main, this was a gutsy attempt to bridge different musical worlds."

Josef Woodard, LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 20, 1996

"The disc’s cynosure is the mammoth Labyrinth by Ian Krouse.  Officially the composer’s Guitar Quartet No. 5, Labyrinth uses Led Zeppelin’s exotic song "Friends" as a cantus firmus of sorts.  Artificial, Middle-Eastern sounding scales, bottle-neck slide, string bending, flat picking, microtones, scordatura, improvisation, and singing, all cast a new light on what the classical guitar can do.  By appropriating the tools of rock and folk music, Krouse has added colors to the art guitar’s palette.  For once, here’s an adventurous highly crafted work that insults neither high nor low musical camps.  Bravo!"

AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, November/December, 1995

"…Ian Krouse’s remarkable mulling over of a Led Zeppelin tune.  They not only pick, pluck, and strum in a variety of manners, but they also retune the guitars, bend notes, improvise, knock on wood, and sing a lot…truly adventurous."

STEREO REVIEW, October, 1995 

"…a fascinating six-movement work that successively reproduces, reinvents, and reassembles Zep’s "Friends," is but one highlight of this extraordinary recording.  Listen and marvel."

GUITAR PLAYER, October, 1995

"Ian Krouse’s ‘Labyrinth’ is inspired by Led Zep, and at 20 minutes does seem to hit the marathon runner’s famous "wall."  In seven sections of varying rock and blues orientated passages, it sometimes has a nostalgic charm – I particularly liked the slow, moody blues of the fourth part, and the fragmentary nature of the second with its stabbing motifs fighting for elbow room…"

Chris Kilvington, CLASSICAL GUITAR, October, 1995

[“Labyrinth,”] written by Ian Krouse, is based on a theme by Led Zeppelin, and if that thought outs you off, don’t let it!  The music is written in a contemporary style but is very entertaining and incorporates a number of different guitar styles (including steel-string and slide!).”

DISC DOCTOR, Seattle Classic Guitar Society On Line, May, 2000

Folías (AKA Guitar Quartet No. 4) (1993)

Requested and premiered by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Andrew York, St. Louis, Missouri, October 4, 1992.

First recording by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, ‘Evening in Granada’, Delos, DE 3144, Winter, 1994.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Duration: 14’

Program notes and performance history:

In ‘Folías’, which was composed at the request of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the composer set out to add a work evocative of Spanish style to a distinguished tradition of "folias" that includes over 1,000 compositions, including versions by Marais, Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, Paganini, Rachmaninoff, Ponce, and Lutoslawski.  About his own Folías the composer writes:

"The folia was popular in Spain as a sung dance accompanied by guitar and sonagas – metal disks attached to a wooden ring.  The word folia means "mad" or "empty-headed,"  for the dance was so fast and noisy that the dancers seemed out of their minds.  My version is set in the usual form of the variations, but with two twists.  First, the theme itself is not presented until almost halfway through the piece – and even then – it is stated in several forms.  Second, the variations start out quite long and gradually become shorter…they continue to accelerate until they move so fast that each takes only a few beats to complete.  The piece concludes with a festive series of variations based on a form of the folia which was popular in the late Renaissance."

The compositional style of Krouse’s Folías is an eclectic circle.  It is described by the composer as a kind of  "time travel," beginning with improvisatory, neo-minimalistic murmurings reminiscent of flamenco style.  The music develops backward in time, stylistically, to a statement of the them in Baroque style, then back further to neo-Renaissance style, and finally comes full circle back to the present.  One hears the theme emerging gradually until its full statement at the gravitational center of the piece, designated by the composer "Follia after Corelli" [at 8:25].  Shortly thereafter [at 10:31] the theme is stated in minor, this time quoting the "Folías of Sanz."  As the variations draw to a close, the score indicates that the players should, each in turn, leave the stage, in an elaborate visual, as well as aural, diminuendo.

Reviews:

"Ian Krouse’s "Folías" is a variation set that quotes Renaissance and Baroque versions of the "Folías" theme between more adventurously modern expansions."

Allan Kozin, NEW YORK TIMES, May 28, 1994

"What follows is Folías, a heated contemporary piece by guitarist Ian Krouse that begins where Boccherini’s flamenco strums end.  Boisterous rasgueado jump starts the 15-minute set of variations which travel back in time as each new treatment of the theme gets closer in language to the original Spanish Renaissance dance; by the fade-out finish, the players have exited one by one, as in Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, giving Folías a ghostly ending that sweeps away the music like so much desert sand and collective memory"

AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, September/October, 1994

"This remarkable 15 minute piece is an absolutely compelling work, which only reveals its famous theme halfway through and moves in a circle of ‘time travel’ as the composer puts it.  Commencing with a sort of minimalistic whispering alternated with powerful chords, it journeys backwards in style from today to the Baroque and Renaissance, with guitarists sure to recognize Gaspar Sanz en route.  I loved its prolonged motifs changing by voice, tonal sounds occasionally becoming dissonant, and then gradually evolving majestically with strong themes coming and going against a backwash of murmuring arpeggio.  Folías concludes by the disappearance of each player in turn, gradually becoming nothing.  A terrific composition."

CLASSICAL GUITAR, June, 1994

"Krouse’s Folías leaps into the 20th century, only to commence a journey back to the popular Renaissance dance theme known to students of baroque music through Corelli’s famous Op. 5, No. 12 variations.  Krouse’s intricate development of the old melody extends the concept of variations well beyond Corelli’s simple musical geometry, and we are almost relieved to hear the familiar theme directly stated after 8 ½ minutes of ingenious exploration and extrapolation.  There is anticipation in this piece, and maybe a little frustration, but the purposeful motion of the music keeps us involved and always waiting for the next note."

CD REVIEW, February, 1994

"Ian Krouse’s "Folías" takes one of the most famous tunes of all times – there are more than 1,000 settings – and makes a fantastic set of variations on it."

Glenn Giffin, DENVER POST, November 19, 1992

 "The [L.A. Guitar Quartet] surprised the crowd with the world premiere of Ian Krouse’s set of variations based on "La Folia," a popular harmonic pattern used in baroque music.  The harmonic pattern is obscured here, used with prominence only in a reference to Corelli’s famous version.  At the end, a la Haydn’s "Farewell Symphony," the musicians leave the stage while playing the closing four guitars."

Sue Taylor, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, October 5, 1992

“Folías” draws its inspiration from a harmonic scheme of Corelli’s.  The fascination of “Folías” turns on Krouse’s ability to set Corelli’s 200-year-old scheme into variations the quartet can delineate and an audience can grasp.  The Krouse comes off more successfully for its textures (quite nice)…”

Jack Neal, RENO-GAZETTE, November, 1992

“Ian Krouse is a composer whose works the [LAGQ] has played for many years, here a work whose theme is a Spanish dance.  The traditional theme is played after the half-way point, revolving through versions made famous by Sanz and Guererra.  Krouse understands this traditional pattern very well and how to distance himself from it, bringing it to life with a new meaning.”

GUITAR AND LUTE, 1996

“Folias” even has some vague acoustic echoes of contemporary pop guitarists like Robbie Kreiger of the Doors…”

 “The epic length “Folías” is one of the most fascinating pieces on this disc.  Composed by the contemporary composer Ian Krouse for the quartet, it blends a range of styles and is called a “time travel’ by the composer – starting with a pulsating, lightning fast chorus of plucking and developing to the main theme midway, moving to a fascinating modern sound and then back to its theme, slowing and quietly tapering to its conclusion.  Its diverse sound, from Flamenco to Baroque to modern, creates a piece that sounds both classical and contemporary, its composition much like the group itself.”

“Los Angeles based guitar composer Ian Krouse’s “Folías” was a throw-back to the Baroque, a set of virtuosic variations on a progression of eight chords.  I’ve never heard a new work cheered that loudly.”

Lloyd Dykk, THE VANCOUVER SUN, February 4, 2003

“Ian Krouse’s “Folías,” his third work written for the quartet, had modern guitar playing with imaginatively dressed older models.  The mainly young audience rewarded the performance with clapping, cheering and joyful shouting.”

BERLINER MORGENPOST, March 30, 1993

“Ian Krouse’s “Folías” is a contemporary variations set  on one of the oldest and most beloved themes of guitar literature.  The American’s piece, which featured expressive timbres and minimalistic structures, developed like a reverse time-lapse, and in the end – a la Haydn’s “Farewell Symphony,” the performers exited the stage one at a time.”

Gerhard Summer, AKTUELLE KRITIC, 1993

“A well-constructed work, it uses the popular medieval “Folías” melody, barely recognizable some of the time, and quoted it in three well-known forms, including the one by Corelli.”

Philippa Kiraly, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, April 5, 1993

[Folías] takes one of the most famous tunes of all times – there are more than 1,000 settings – and makes a fantastic set of variations on it;”

Glenn Griffin, DENVER POST, November 19, 1992

[Folías]is, in short, the selection where the guitarists could best show how advanced their technique really was.”

Lyman Pitman, THE CHIEFTAIN, Pueblo, Colorado, November 18, 1992

“Probably the most challenging work of the evening, for the performers and audience alike, was a contemporary composition entitled, “Folías” by Ian Krouse, a guitarist and composer.  Written especially for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the set of variations based on the folia, a Spanish dance, proved to be full of sudden shifts in dynamics, tempo and phrasing.”

Jeff Kaczmarczyk, KALAMAZOO GAZETTE, November 20, 1992

“…the skillfully constructed “Folías”…”

Marc Shulgold, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, November 20, 1992

Bulerías (AKA Guitar Quartet No. 3) (1989) 

Requested and premiered by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Anisa Angarola, John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Second Guitar Congress, Wake Forest University, June, 1989.

First recording by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, ‘The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’ GHA – 126.016, released Winter, 1992.

Published by Peer Music Classical

Duration: 15’

Program notes and performance history:

The idea for Bulerías came to me while listening with awe and fascination to the multiple guitar improvisations of the touring show Flamenco Puro.  This single movement virtuoso work is neither "flamenco" nor "pure."  But it is solidly rooted in the characteristic 12-beat rhythmic patterns of the "soleares" and its festive cousin the "bulerías," and is imbued throughout with the spirit and actual techniques of the flamenco guitar.  After an impressionistic and improvisatory opening section marked Quasi cadenza – senza misura, the work becomes gradually more rhythmically clarified, leading to an intense Tempo di Soleares and finally culminating in a riotous final (and longest) section – Tempo di Bulerías.  The piece makes extensive use of antiphonal effects, all based on the improvised clapping   –  palmas  – of flamenco.

Reviews:

"Ian Krouse’s "Bulerías" explores the obsessive side of flamenco in sweaty volleys of iterative chords, building impressively…It lives on rhythmic interplay, and the collisions of granitic harmonies and primal motivic fragments, all fiercely projected here."

John Henken, LOS ANGELES TIMES, March 23, 1991

"Accented with dissonant, crashing passages, sometimes rhythmically at odds, the work gradually evolved into beautifully harmonic, layered patterns, performed with great spirit."

Karen Knutson, ARKANSAS GAZETTE, February 21, 1990

"…Bulerías, a piece with fabulous textures…is absorbing, brutal, beautiful, and harsh, all at the same time."

GFA SOUNDBOARD, Winter, 1989-90

"Bulerías has to be mentioned in a separate breath, for it was quite literally breath-taking.  Firmly footed in its Spanish origin, this item provided a challenge to the members of the quartet.  The difficulties of this marathon piece may not have been readily evident, since they were mostly based on rhythmic intricacies between the four guitarists.  Bulerías was tailor-made for the L.A. Guitar Quartet, or so it seems.  Using a number of minimalist devices and techniques, the piece very quickly transported the listener beyond the state of ordinary excitement into a realm of hypnotic suspension.  As the piece came to a close, I had a sense of exhausted exhilaration over having been returned to earth in one piece.  I shall not forget this experience any time soon."

GFA SOUNDBOARD, Fall, 1989

Antique Suite (AKA Guitar Quartet No.2) (1976)  

Premiered in its revised version by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Anisa Angarola, John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Bovard Auditorium, USC, Los Angeles, California, April 18, 1987.

First recording by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, ‘El Amor Brujo’, GHA 126.001, released Winter, 1987.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Duration: 15’

Program notes and performance history:

The original version of the Antique Suite was written in 1976 while I was an undergraduate composition major at Indiana University at South Bend, and premiered by myself with several friends on the occasion of my senior recital.  It was composed in a burst of enthusiasm over hearing Stravinsky’s Pulcinella for the first time.  (I could not have known at the time, that this ‘recreational’ little piece would be a harbinger of my mature style.)  Several years later, while a graduate student at the University of Southern California, I decided to re-visit this piece, as I wanted something to give my friends the Los Angles Guitar Quartet, who, at that time, were still largely unknown.  I quickly realize that the piece, as it stood, had several problems!  I tossed out two of the inner movements, wrote one new one, tightened up the seams, and polished up the counterpoint.  The result worked out quite well, and I have left it alone ever since.

The work assumes the form of a suite-like series of re-constructed lute dances by the prolific German lutenist-composer Hans Neusidler.  At first I recall being somewhat ‘intimidated’ by the material and somewhat cautious in my arranging.  I also remember being frustrated by this unintended conservatism.  As I got deeper into the piece I found it easier and easier to treat the material as my own, and wondered, with some chagrin, what Neusidler would have thought of my efforts.  In fact, when I returned to "repair" this piece after a lapse of about ten years, it was primarily the first movement – the first to be composed – which received the most radical revision.  It appears as if I shed some of my reticence in the intervening years!  The work has been championed by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, and the Quator de Guitares de Versailles, among others.

Reviews:

"Ian Krouse’s ‘Antique Suite after Neusidler’ is based on pieces by 16th century lutenist Hans Neusidler, and is a dynamic, often unsettling, fusion of 20th  century and Renaissance musical languages."

GUITAR PLAYER, April, 1990

"…the astonishing and beautiful ‘Antique Suite’ …was inspired by themes of the German Renaissance.  Although the work is a difficult one the four guitarists rose to the occasion brilliantly.  The first two movements each began with sustained effects produced by drawing a bow across all six strings."

CORDOBA LOCAL, July 24, 1987
 
"[Antique Suite] is an interesting work where colorful Renaissance harmonic progressions are given modern resolutions.  The use of the bow in the manner of a viola da gamba and the percussive effects produced by the fingers on the bridge add richness and variety to the work.  The L.A Guitar Quartet gave us a colorful and seductive version of the work."

GRENOBLE LOISIRS, July 8, 1987

Guitar Quartet No. 1 (1977)

Written for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and premiered on the occasion of my Masters Degree recital at the University of Southern California in May, 1979.  The performers were myself, Terry Graves, Agnes Narciso, James Smith, and Thomas Wong.  

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score:       $19.00
Parts:        $38.00

Duration: 14’

Program notes and performance history:

My first guitar quartet was written while I was pursuing a Masters Degree in composition at the University of Southern California.  My teacher at the time was the late Halsey Stevens.  This piece is characteristic of my ‘severe’ style, and is quite influenced by Elliott Carter, Bartok and Ligeti.  The version that I premiered with James Smith, Agnes Narciso, Thomas Wong and Terry Graves (yes, it took five players for this ‘quartet’!) involved two pairs of guitarists spread apart by about twelve feet or so, and each tuned ¼ tone from the others.  We played the heck out of it and it came off rather well, but I subsequently made a second version that eliminated the microtonal aspect (I discovered that at the speed we played most of the piece the ¼ tone effect was all but negated) and simplified some of the textures, especially towards the end.  The revised version has never been played – my style changed radically before that could happen!  Still, for those interested in my work, it might be interesting to see what the composer of Antique Suite, Bulerías, Folías, and Labyrinth was doing in the 70’s.  For its time it was a radical piece, in either version, and might be interesting in revival.  The piece may also be deconstructed as series of ‘etudes’ for guitar duo, an exercise we undertook in the Guitar Ensemble class at USC during the period in which we were working up the piece for performance.

Music for Guitar and Orchestra

Chiacona (for guitar and orchestra)    2008

CLICK HERE FOR TWOPDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC

Commissioned by the Korean Community Cultural Center and premiered by guitarist Scott Tennant and the Los Angeles Festival Orchestra conducted by Jong Bae, Disney Hall, Los Angeles, California, July 28, 2008.

 

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Conductor’s score:                  $48.00

Score and parts rental:           $500.00 (Academic pricing available.)

 

Program notes and performance history:

 

iece I wrote in 2002 for organ and guitar, in effect, an arrangement of a transformation!  The source for my piece is a work of the same name for violin and continuo written by the mid 17th century virtuoso, Antonio Bertali.  However, my freely realized interpretation is far more than an arrangement: though it is true that, if one took the trouble to strip away my contributions, the original would be revealed basically intact, I have altered the fundamental geometry of the piece by extending certain sections – creating a kind of emphasis that goes far beyond mere performance practice decisions – or employing augmentation, mensural canons, neo-isorhythmic procedures, and the like, to create fractal-like fluctuations in the original architecture.  Probably, these sorts of techniques are mere composerly amusements, serving mainly as a creative aid to ‘find’ or ‘get into’ the piece.  The first time listener will likely be more aware of the high level of the (increasingly risky) contrasts that populate this brief landscape; contrasts made possible by simply exaggerating or magnifying the inherent qualities of the spectacular original.  Bertali’s score abounds in quick-fire modulations, peppery cross relations, abrupt tempo changes, eerie chromaticism, and playful – at times awkwardly long – pauses; its moods sway between the pastoral and the brilliant, the playful and the majestic, and from ‘pop’ to ‘arty’.  It was both easy and amusing – ultimately satisfying – to exaggerate or augment these found conditions and stretch them far beyond the stylistic and performance practice limits of the time.  In a way my ‘treatment’ could be viewed as an anachronistic – though admiring – application of modern performance practices to a 17th century object.  Ultimately, I dare to hope that neither my own voice nor that of my unknowing collaborator will be completely obscured:  I have endeavored to allow my own voice full reign without doing so at the expense of its original author.  In the version premiered at Disney Hall in 2008, the famous Korean song ‘Arirang’ is heard as a cantus firmus as the guitar dies away at the end.

Guitar and flute

Da Chara (flute and guitar) (1984)

Commissioned and premiered by Objet d’art (Valarie King, flute, Anisa Angarola, flute) 1984.

First recording by Objet d’art, ‘Pastorale’, James Mars Productions, released 1986. (Cassette only, out of print.)  CD release coming soon from Lissadell.  Second recording by Jim Walker, flute, Scott Tennant, guitar, ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’, Delos DE 3207, released February, 1998.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Duration: 6’

Program notes and performance history:

Da Chara, Gaelic for "two friends," one of a growing series of pieces written in the traditional Irish style, was commissioned by guitarist Anisa Angarola and flutist Valarie King.  Written in a form largely inspired by Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains, it begins with a flute air in free style, followed by another air in 3/4 time, played first by the guitar alone, then with the flute.  Next, the original air returns as a march, which gradually picks up energy until it bubbles over into a wild reel.  At the end of the reel, the first air returns one last time as a cantus firmus, as the flute continues to spin wild variations above.  Though all the melodies are "original" in the sense that they were not lifted from traditional sources, they were intended to be taken for authentic Irish melodies.  Guitarist Juan Carlos Laguna with flutist Marisa Canales, as well as guitarist Scott Tennant and flutist James Walker, among others, have also performed the piece.

Reviews:

“This piece is written in “traditional Irish style,” beginning with a free, improvisational air and progressing through another air, a march and a wild reel.  The opening improvisation is a lovely melody embellished in the Irish manner.  Ian Krouse includes written ornamentation, which is very helpful to those not yet familiar with the style.  This portion of the piece is probably the most difficult because of the ensemble issues in playing a “double improvisation.”

The following air in 3/4 is introduced by the guitar alone and then played by both instruments.  This evolves into a march, which uses material from the opening improvisation.  The tempo accelerates throughout the march into a quick reel which then becomes a “wild reel,” with the guitar playing the melody and the flute playing variations above the guitar.

The composer explores typical guitar techniques, such as rolling arpeggios, strummed chords and swept chords, as well as giving the guitar an equal role in exposing melodic material.  The guitar is not just an accompanying instrument.  The ethnic character of the music is explored in both instruments with the style clearly conveyed to the performers.  The flute range is moderate with ample suggestions for performing style, and is reminiscent of Irish music performed on a penny whistle. 

This is a delightful piece that is fun and exciting to play, and which will be pleasing to an audience. It is especially suitable for a recital of ethnic music or as an encore piece in n any performance.”

Sharon Lebsack, AMERICAN MUSIC TEACHER,  June-July, 2007

“Two Friends” begins with the guitar in rapid arpeggiated repeated notes imitating a dulcimer, evolving into a short march and ending with an energetic dance.”

Lily Afshar, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July, 1998

Air (flute and guitar) (1982)

Arrangement by the composer of a piece originally for guitar solo.  Premiered by flutist Valarie King and guitarist Terry Graves, October, 1982.

First recording by Objet d’art, ‘Pastorale’, James Mars Productions, 1986. (Cassette only, out of print.)  CD re-release on Lissadell.

Published by Peer Music Classical

Duration: 4’

Program notes and performance history:

Air
is the earliest in a series of pieces inspired by traditional Irish music.  Though many are decidedly neo-Celtic, this, the first, sounds fairly authentic. Though originally conceived for performance by an Irish band, it has most often been performed in an arrangement for solo guitar, and, in that form, has been championed by guitarist Scott Tennant.  It is also performed in arrangements for flute and guitar.

Music for Guitar and organ

Chiacona (for guitar and organ)   2002

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE 11
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE 21

Commissioned by the American Guild of Organists for the 2004 Biennial National Conference in Los Angeles, Christoph Bull, organ, and Scott Tennant, guitar, Royce Hall, UCLA, 9:15 &10:45 A.M., July 6, 2004.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Score and parts: $18.00

Duration: 12’

Program notes and performance history:

The source for my Chiacona, is a work of the same name for violin and continuo written by the mid 17th century virtuoso, Antonio Bertali.  However, my freely realized interpretation is far more than an arrangement: though it is true that, if one took the trouble to strip away my contributions, the original would be revealed basically intact, I have altered the fundamental geometry of the piece by extending certain sections – creating a kind of emphasis that goes far beyond mere performance practice decisions – or employing augmentation, mensural canons, neo-isorhythmic procedures, and the like, to create fractal-like fluctuations in the original architecture.  Probably, these sorts of techniques are mere composerly amusements, serving mainly as a creative aid to ‘find’ or ‘get into’ the piece.  The first time listener will likely be more aware of the high level of the (increasingly risky) contrasts that populate this brief landscape; contrasts made possible by simply exaggerating or magnifying the inherent qualities of the spectacular original.  Bertali’s score abounds in quick-fire modulations, peppery cross relations, abrupt tempo changes, eerie chromaticism, and playful – at times awkwardly long – pauses; its moods sway between the pastoral and the brilliant, the playful and the majestic, and from ‘pop’ to ‘arty’.  It was both easy and amusing – ultimately satisfying – to exaggerate or augment these found conditions and stretch them far beyond the stylistic and performance practice limits of the time.  In a way my ‘treatment’ could be viewed as an anachronistic – though admiring – application of modern performance practices to a 17th century object.  Ultimately, I dare to hope that neither my own voice nor that of my unknowing collaborator will be completely obscured:  I have endeavored to allow my own voice full reign without doing so at the expense of its original author.

Thomas Harmon, James Hopkins, and Frances Nobert, and, of course Christoph Bull, provided me with expert advice along the way, otherwise I would surely have floundered long before completing this – my first – composition for organ.

Music for Guitar and Piano

Planxty Heather MacLaughlin and Alan Johnston

CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PDF--P.1
CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PDF--P.11
CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PDF--P.22

Planxty Heather MacLaughlin and Alan Johnston (2010) [11’]

Commissioned by Heather MacLaughlin and Alan Johnston and premiered by them at the MacPhail Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 29, 2011.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Program notes and performance history:

‘Planxty’ was the title given by the legendary Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan to pieces written for his friends and patrons.  Loosely it means “good cheer” - something we could all do with from time to time.  Except for a brief meditative section towards the end (“inverted musings”) and a touch of melancholy in the guitar solo at the very end, most of this piece is in pretty high spirits.  Though it is mainly rooted in traditional Celtic music (after all it is based upon an Irish reel called “The Pretty Girls of Mayo”) it touches on various other world music styles as well, including American country rock, Celtic fiddling, Blue-grass, blues, Afro-Cuban, and even Japanese koto.
In addition to strumming and flat-picking, the piece makes extensive use of other non-classical techniques such as sliding between positions on a single finger, and hammering on with the left hand.  In keeping with its Celtic influences, the guitarist and the pianist never play exactly the same thing even when a ‘unison’ effect seems to be the goal.  This is done to approximate the heterophonic effect that happens naturally when traditional players perform reels at the same time, often in slightly differing versions, and with idiomatic ornamentation appropriate to the particular instrument being played.