About this work:
THREE GYMNOPÉDIES (1999)
When Howard Hersh asked me for a piece for Music Now I had just written the Gymnopédie for John Lennon in the context of my current project, Ambulant Music for Erik Satie: A Journal in Music, 1999. It seemed suitable to the occasion, so I decided to compose two more works in the same vein, in keeping with Satie's original model.
A "gymnopédie" is not a form as such, having no musical precedent at the time Satie composed his best-known works. Nor did he ever define the label for us in musical terms. I have come to think of the gymnopédie as a kind of "place" a composer can go for reflection, a place where things are expressed in simple (though not simplistic) terms.
The image of John Lennon came spontaneously as I wrote the first piece of the set. The music itself evoked it; I hadn't been thinking of him when I sat down to work. While writing the other two I began thinking of other artists whose works have meant something special to me at particular times - the American humorist Richard Brautigan, and a high school friend, Mark Cunningham, who also share with Lennon their tragic deaths by gunshot.
Year composed: 1999
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 2-5 players
Instrumentation: 1 Vibraphone, 1 Piano, 1 Violin
Instrumentation notes: Originally written for violin, that part may also be played on viola. The percussion part also uses crotales (not a full 2 octaves, but more than just the upper one).