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Gunther Schuller

Publisher: AMP

Concerto for Piano No. 1 (1962)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
22 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
Gunther Schuller Concerto for Piano No. 1 (1962)
Composer Note:

When I first began to formulate plans for a Piano Concerto, my mind kept returning to two central questions which, it seemed to me, had to be answered at the outset: 1) how does a composer, using the “serial technique,” relate this compositional approach to a form as obsolete as the traditional “concerto form”: 2) how can such a composer establish a link between serial concepts and some of the older pianistic techniques and traditions without compromising his own style and personality. In a sense, this Concerto is my answer to those questions.

Each musical tradition creates its own musical forms. The 19th-century concerto, based on the “sonata form,” developed out of the specific needs and characteristics of diatonic tonality. By the end of the century, composers began to find the old forms too confining. One composer, above all others, saw clearly that, in the future, each work would no longer be poured, so to speak, into a preordained mold; it would instead have its own form determined by the specific characteristics of that piece. That composer was Claude Debussy. Debussy’s vision has now in our time been fully understood and realized, and in “serial technique” especially, each work determines its own individual form.

So, too, is this Concerto the formal plan of its 3 movements is based on time and intensity proportions which are directly derived from [a] series…. Thus a form is achieved which is intrinsic to this piece and is reflected in its every phase.

—Gunther Schuller

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