Eccentricities of a Nightingale (The) [Suite from]
About this work:
Dedicated to my friend Skip Phillips, this concert suite was culled from my 1978 incidental score to the Tennessee Williams play of the same name.
The first movement of this suite is actually the overture to the first act, entitled "Alma" after the main character. Alma, on the verge of spinsterhood, is a singer of local reputation, and a very nervous person. Though the music is fairly consonant, it is very agitated, and this depicts her personality. The movement ends with a stylized nightingale birdcall a la Messiaen, and then closes with a simple E major chord...as though all is well. The second movement entitled "Scherzo" comes from the overture to the second act and is simply a piece of music to cover the scene change, but is very exuberant. The third movement, entitled "Episode" is actually the overture to the play's short fourth act and was orignially entitled "Epilogue." Containing Alma's theme from the first overture played on a solo cello, all the agitation is stripped away, and Alma's despair is layed bare. The fourth movement is entitled "Musee Mechanique - Theme & Variations."
I wrote an original music box theme (necessary for the play's action), and developed it through four variations. When the original theme returns after the variations, now played very slowly, we realize that each variation was slower than the one that preceded it, like a music box winding down. The rest of the incidental score contained music for scene changes, the music box theme and songs for Alma to sing in addition to these curtain raisers.
There was such great material in this score that I used parts of it in other works, thinking that if I had to wait for performances of this play with my music, it might never be heard again, even with this concert suite version, especially because of its unusual instrumentation.
Version: Suite arranged by the composer
Year composed: 1979
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 6-9 players
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Tuba, 1 Piano, 1 Viola, 3 Cello
Instrumentation notes: At least three cellos are necessary to perform this piece, and that was what was used in the actual incidental score's performance for budget reasons, but a minimum of six would be closer to my sound ideal.