Opus 705

Sonata in memoriam Daniel Pinkham (2007)

for Flute

  • Caprice
  • Folk Arabesques
  • March
  • Aria and Interludes
  • Hootenanny at the Gates of Heaven

Duration: 13.25 min.

Dedication: for Fenwick Smith

Commission: Commissioned by Arcadia Capital

Publisher: Musik Fabrik

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Sonata in memoriam Daniel Pinkham (2007) for flute was written for and is dedicated to flutist Fenwick Smith. The work was written in memory of American composer Daniel Pinkham (1923-2006) – a composer whose music, advocacy, and personal support meant a great deal to me over the years I knew him. Throughout his distinguished career as a composer, keyboard performer (on harpsichord and organ), teacher, and conductor, Dan Pinkham served as an inspiration for countless American composers and musicians.

I had planned to write a solo flute sonata for a few years and made many sketches towards such a work. In early 2007, reflecting on Dan’s passing in December 2006, I threw out everything I already had and began anew, conceiving the work both as a tribute to Dan and a piece for his close friend and frequent collaborator Fenwick Smith.

The five movements of the work each explore ongoing transformation of their opening materials. Though there are elegiac moments in the work, the tone throughout is zestfully celebratory, with touches of humor, representing Pinkham’s irrepressible and memorable wit.

The first movement, Caprice, flies through a series of arpeggio figurations in changing modes (often a different mode “going up” from “coming down”).

The second movement, Folk Arabesques, is based on a Kentucky folk ballad, “John Riley.” The unusual leaps in the original melody and its modal shifts are explored in the surrounding commentaries, which take combine bits of the folk ballad with arabesque figurations.

The third movement, March, leaps through the total chromatic spectrum. Though the march is a form often ignored by American composers, Pinkham often employed such sections and rhythms in his own music.

The fourth movement, Aria and Interludes, uses a common Pinkham form—where the basic musical dialogue (in this case a straightforward ‘aria’ melody in G minor) is interrupted by “interludes” of contrasting nature. In the case of this movement, it is gradually revealed that the interludes are altered versions of the aria material.

The fifth and final movement, Hootenanny at the Gates of Heaven, is a joyous romp, combining together both the chromatic/modal shifts of the earlier movements with pentatonic figurations and melodies in the spirit of American folk fiddling.