Opus 101

Triptych for Harpsichord (1999)

for Harpsichord

  • Bizarre
  • Corrupt
  • Unusual

Duration: 6 min.

Dedication: for Ewa Gabrys

Commission: Commissioned by the Broeker Fund for New Music

Publisher: Lauren Keiser Music Publishing

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Triptych for Harpsichord (1999) was commissioned by the Broeker Fund for New Music and is dedicated to the great Polish harpsichordist Ewa Gabrys. The work is in three movements and explores musical ideas and concepts in an almost surreal fashion; the work also makes use of characteristics of the harpsichord that make it different from other keyboard instruments.

If at all possible, a two manual instrument should be used to perform this work. Crescendi are not meant to be realized in the traditional sense, but are intended to be portrayed as the thrust of the line. Likewise, dynamics are intended to give the performer a sense of where the peaks and emotional high points and low points of the work are. Registration and manual change markings are given throughout although the performer may certainly adapt to the instrument on which she is playing.

The first movement, Bazaar (name being a play on the word “bizarre” and also the pompous march music associated with a “bazaar”), explores bitonality and the thick bass chords which have clarity on a harpsichord (in contrast to a piano). The second movement, Corrupt, uses unusual metrical patterns, superimposed harmonies, and clusters. The lack of sustaining power in the harpsichord is utilized throughout this movement. The third movement, Unusual, is a “moto perpetuo” with a continuous ostinato in the bass covering the range of a minor third. This movement makes use of the harpsichord’s distinct timbre, useful for highly rhythmic music.