Suite Trouvères



Composing for any instrument that you do not play is a challenge, but guitar poses particularly thorny problems for many composers. Fortunately, I was able to work closely with an excellent guitarist who literally played each few measures as they emerged, often suggesting revisions that were more idiomatic or effective.

What emerged from this process was a set of five miniatures. Each movement is either song-like or dance-derived. Canto - to be played slowly, with ancient yearning - is meant to serve as an extemporaneous, bard-like introduction to the rest of the Suite. Sogno (dream), enigmatic and stoic, relies on harmonics and ringing notes that stand out against a stark staccato background to evoke the feeling of a fading dream memory. Burlesque is a dance-like account of the adventures of a knight errant; the performer is instructed to play “with parody" to create a mock-heroic effect in the irregular subdivisions of the beat, abrupt cadences, sudden accelerandos, and quivering tremolos. Aubade is a waltz-like song of lovers parting at daybreak. The fast and furious Toccata is a study in lombardic and iambic rhythms (short-long and long-short). This short virtuosic movement employs quartal harmonies (chords built on fourths) and explores the entire range of the guitar, from the lowest notes to the very top of the fingerboard.

Premiere: September 30, 1984, Allen Krantz, Sunday Concert Series, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA

1985-1986, 3 broadcasts on WPEB FM (Philadelphia) of Allen Krantz, guitarist, discussing and performing on Guitaromania by Michael Wright, Philadelphia

April 2, 1991, James Hontz, Temple University, Philadelphia

May 26, 1991, James Hontz, at a Classical Guitar Society Concert, Philadelphia

© John Carbon 2015