Jeremy BECK/ SAMPLES FROM RECENT Vienna Modern Masters-CDs


picture Jeremy Beck

Jeremy BECK, born in 1960, holds degrees in composition from Yale University, Duke University and the Mannes College of Music. He has received awards and fellowships from the American Composers Orchestra, American Music Center, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Millay Colony for the Arts, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Wellesley Composers Conference, Oregon Bach Festival, American Music Center and the American Council of Teachers of Russian. He has published articles and reviews in Notes, Essays in American Music, and ComposerUSA, and has taught at the University of Northern Iowa, Chatham College, St. Petersburg Conservatory and Herzen University (St. Petersburg, Russia) and the Kopeyia-Bloomfield School (Ghana). His music may also be heard on the ERM, Capstone, heng hau, and Living Artist labels. Dr. Beck is an Associate Professor of Music at California State University-Fullerton.

SPARKS, AND FLAME (ASH) was composed in 1996-97 for the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra’s 1997 tour of Russia. The piece is in the character of an overture, and opens with “sparks” – brief, sputtering gestures which are centered around a D pedal-point. Later, this pedal-point becomes much more rhythmically active, while the “sparks” which fly around it gradually form a chord progression, shaped by a three-note motive. All of these elements are transformed over the course of the piece and intermittently build to climactic points or, metaphorically, “burst into flame.” Many of these climactic moments are centered around F, as a nod towards the old relative relationship between D and F in functional tonality. Towards the end of the piece, there is a brief interlude, presented initially as a horn duet. The music here is marked “with nostalgia.” I was imagining the feeling one sometimes gets late at night, while staring into the shifting flames and sparks of a fire. Within this more pensive material, I have used the D-S-C-H motive (which Shostakovich introduced throughout much of his music) as a gentle greeting for the Russian audiences who would hear this in Moscow and St. Petersburg. After the interlude, SPARKS, AND FLAME (ASH) builds back to a high point, before quietly and quickly “burning itself out to ashes.”

Jeremy Beck