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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

Echoes of Time Past (1999)
commissioned by Orchestra 2001 with support from the Philadelphia Music Project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by Settlement Music School.
Novello & Co Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
15 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
cor anglais, trumpet
Programme Note
Thea Musgrave Echoes of Time Past (1999)
The main challenge of this work was how to create an exciting musical form that would make a virtue out of the imbalance of two dissimilar instruments. To achieve this I decided to opt for several dramatic features.

First there is the question of seating: during the course of the work the trumpet moves to several different positions on stage. There are also moments where the soloists sit, as well as stand, to underline the drama. Another element in the work is the notion of 'time past'. Several themes associated with either English horn or trumpet are quoted. Most notably the famous theme from Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
This theme gradually unfolds at the very beginning where the English horn is in a nostalgic mood. The trumpet, who is seated 'unobtrusively' at the back of the platform, behind the strings, becomes increasingly impatient, eventually stands and interrupts with a short cadenza. The English Horn tries to hold its own with a brief reference to another famous theme, (the Willow Song from Verdi’s Otello) but then reluctantly gives way to the energy of the trumpet who takes over and leads the next section which is fast, ‘lighthearted, and energetic’.

The English Horn in its turn interrupts the flow and tries to lead the music back to the Dvorak theme. The trumpet energetically resists and the orchestra finally overwhelms both soloists. Finding no support from the orchestra, the English Horn turns to the trumpet and with expressive phrases in a new cadenza ‘invites’ the trumpet to move forward. From the new position beside the double basses the trumpet now accompanies the English Horn in a partial reprise of the opening section even playing the Dvorak theme. The English Horn then suggests a famous trumpet theme (Wagner) to the trumpet who encouraged now moves closer still to a position on the conductor’s right hand. Both soloists now join together in a
reprise of the fast section. A third and joyful cadenza for the two soloists leads directly to a very fast moving coda. At the very end the music melts into a peaceful conclusion with both soloists sharing a distant memory of the Dvorak theme.

Thea Musgrave

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...Musgrave believes in keeping musicians on their toes; much of her work has a spatial or theatrical element, and throughout the programme the players are rarely in their seats. Echoes of Time Past banishes the solo trumpet to the back of the class like a naughty schoolboy.
Alfred Hickling, The Guardian,12/12/2008
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