The work opens with a type of fanfare, which leads to a simple statement of the tune accompanied at times by a bagpipe-like figure and at times by sevenths. Descending scales lead to an ostinato pattern, which forms a background to the second occurrence of the melody, which is heard on an 8’ stop in the pedal. The music segues into the first phrase of the tune now in 4/4 time. The phrase, which is repeated in sequence, modulates to the bright key of A major where the entire melody is heard with a chordal accompaniment. The work closes with a return of the opening fanfare in an extended presentation, which climaxes with fortissimo chords against fifths in the pedal.
This work was commissioned by the Iowa Composers Forum through the Marilynn Etzel Piano Commission.
From the “depths” of crashing diminished octaves rise four chords from which most of the composition is derived. A continuous rise and fall of a melodic line with emphasis on fourths is constantly interrupted by the low diminished octaves and permutations of the four chords eventually leading to a repeated bass pattern and ascending melodies. An extended version of the four chords is heard in retrograde leading to the middle section. The much slower middle section has the “feel” of a waltz even though the time signatures are 7/8 and 5/8. Essentially lyrical in character the melodies here are interrupted from time to time by the “growling” repeated bass pattern. As the “waltzes” continue, the bass pattern comes more frequently and gets longer until it takes over completely leading back into a shortened version of the opening section. The work closes as it opened with the crashing diminished octaves and four chords.
Five of my students “commissioned” the seven pieces that are in this collection. Each student chose the title, the character, sometimes even the time signatures and articulation. I sought to tailor the works to the students’ abilities. The process led to the title, ‘By Request.”