Hommage à Trois



Hommage à Trois (1989-91) was the result of a three-year compositional struggle, an exception to my usual fluency. After an initial flurry of compositional activity, generating three times as much material as was finally used, I spent the balance of the time distilling out the remaining thirteen minutes of music. My aim was to present only that which is essential.

The work’s three movements, played without pause, are dedicated to my three composition teachers, Thea Musgrave, Paul Cooper and Peter Racine Fricker. I was very fortunate to have had three powerful mentors who influenced me greatly; but Hommage à Trois is about my misguided struggle to wrestle myself away from their influences. As I began the piece, I tried to accomplish this by wholeheartedly embracing their styles, to the point where I could wean myself away forever. Paradoxically, I found that when I stopped rebelling against these inner voices, what was uniquely “me” grew out of the tradition to which my teachers belonged. There was no need for the total break I had imagined was necessary. In the end, the piece was a search for my own voice which ended up both embracing my influences and celebrating my differences.

During the composition of Hommages à Trois Peter Racine Fricker, the teacher with whom I both began and finished my studies, died of cancer. This tragic incident inevitably shaped the tone and form of the work, and like the loss of a parent, left me feeling truly on my own in my work. it also explains the tragic outburst at the beginning of the third movement and why the piece begins and ends with similar music. The powerful and mysterious tone of the first movement reflects the influence of Thea Musgrave’s “dramatic abstract” style and my initiation into the use of intuitive and emotional creative modes of expression. The scherzo-like second movement shows the orchestrational and structural influences of my mentor, Paul Cooper. The coda-like resolution of the piece reflects the cyclical quality of beginning and ending with the same teacher, his passing on, leaving me to find my own way.

Hommage à Trois has been recorded on the VMM label by the Slovak Radio Orchestra under the direction of Szymon Kawalla

© John Carbon 2015