Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Trombone Sonata for September 11th, 2001

Firefighters killed on September 11, 2001
Here are the program notes I wrote to describe the work, shortly after I had finished it in October, 2001:

Philip Munger
Sonata for Trombone & Piano, Opus 67

This three-movement work was written between mid-September and early October of 2001.  My immediate responses to the awful impressions of September 11 and the following week were of despair.  I had an overwhelming feeling that the world had changed irrevocably - not so much for me, as for my children.  The sadness I felt and continue to feel for innocent people drawn into an immense web of hatred came out in this work, which I wrote carefully, but fairly quickly.

1.  Red Recitative:
    The recurring images of collapsing buildings, smoke, injured and maimed emergency workers spurred this piece.

2.  White/Black March: 
   The images and statements of our National Security and National Defense apparatchiks strutting around in late September, seemed to be in stark contrast to the obviousness of their failure to rationally view our world.  This march questions the sincerity of visible American leaders during that time.

The theme of the march’s trio is an inversion of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”

3.  Blue Chorale:    The chorale’s theme is taken from J. S. Bach’s “The Passion According to St. John.”  “Er nahm alles wohl in Acht,” No. 56, reads:

    He of ev’rything took heed In his hour of dying,
    Caring for his mother’s need, On friends relying,
    O Man, lead a righteous life, Love God and thy neighbor,
    Death will bring an end to strife, Rest from care and labor.
The performance in the recording was done by Greg Powers on trombone and Kevin Aanerud on piano, at a live performance at the Jack Straw Studios in Seattle, Washington:

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