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Joan Tower

Publisher: AMP

Concerto for Piano (Homage to Beethoven) (1985)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
21 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
Joan Tower Concerto for Piano (Homage to Beethoven) (1985)
Composer Note:

This work was commissioned by Hudson Valley Philharmonic Music Director Imre Pallo under a National Endowment for the Arts consortium commissioning grant involving the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Virtuosi. For many years, my work has been greatly inspired by the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, and it is for that reason that the Piano Concerto is subtitled “Homage to Beethoven” and dedicated to his memory. Three sonatas of Beethoven were particularly influential to me, and are reflected in the Piano Concerto. The concerto is a one movement work divided into three sections. In each section there is either an idea or melodic quote inspired by these three sonatas: The first section is an idea inspired by The Tempest, Op. 31. For myself, what impressed me about the first movement of The Tempest sonata is its unusual (even for Beethoven) alternating slow and fast pacing. In my piece, I alternate between slow and fast pacings, although not as abruptly as Beethoven does. In the piano cadenza of the second section is a quote from Op. 111, the last piano sonata Beethoven ever wrote. In the piano cadenza of the third section there is a theme taken from the third movement of Op. 53, Waldstein, which is developed and provides the climax of the last section of the concerto right before the final coda.

The Piano Concerto encompasses the use of two flutes doubling on one piccolo, two clarinets doubling on one bass clarinet, one bassoon, two horns, one trumpet, one trombone, percussion, strings and solo piano.

I would like to extend my warmest thanks and appreciation to Jacquelyn Helin for the dedication and good spirit with which she approached this work.

—Joan Tower

  • Ensemble
    Louisville Orchestra
    Ursula Oppens, piano
    Joseph Silverstein
    D'note Classics:
  • Ensemble
    Philharmony "Bohuslav Martinu"
    Paul Barnes
    Kirk Trevor
[Tower’s] Piano Concerto, with a riveting, sensitively inflected account of the solo part by Paul Barnes of DePauw University, was the most exciting work on [the] program.
Jay Harvey, The Indianapolis Star,09/03/1995
[Tower’s] Concerto is bright, tight, amusing and virtuosic; it holds the interest in every moment.
Daniel Cariaga, The Los Angeles Times,08/01/1990
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