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Joseph Horovitz

Publisher: Novello & Co

Jazz Concerto (1965)
Novello & Co Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
15 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
harpsichord or piano

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Programme Note
Joseph Horovitz Jazz Concerto (1965)
Slow Blues

The work was completed in September 1965 and premièred at the Camden Festival 1966 by George Malcolm, conducted by the composer, during the Camden Festival in March 1966. Since then performances have followed in various towns in England, the Belfast Festival, the Vancouver Festival during Expo, and in South Africa and Israel on the radio and in public. In July 1966 the work won the second prize in the international competition for "Musica ritmo-sinfonica" at Salerno in Italy where it was performed by the Brno Philharmonic. The work is dedicated to George Malcolm.

The term 'jazz' indicates the harmonic and rhythmic idiom of this concerto. Most jazz connoisseurs tend to insist on a further qualification of the word: that it implies a manner of musical procedure - i.e. the presentation of melodic and rhythmic variations on a fixed harmonic pattern. In this one respect jazz resembles some of the music making of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - roughly the 'basso-continuo' period. The often-quoted similarity - a rather superficial one - between the modern 'rhythm section' and the 'continuo group' of Bach's day obscures the underlying difference between the two styles. The real similarity is confined to variation techniques only.

There are many historical and sociological reasons for this limiting of the jazz idiom to one musical procedure, but this confinement of a language to one manner of employment seems to me absurd, rather as if Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Scarlatti had never written anything other than ground basses.

In this concerto I have attempted to combine the use of traditional jazz language with some principles of formal thematic development within individual movements. Sonata form in the first, song form A-B-A in the slow blues (B being a kind of cadenza) and rondo form in the last.

I emphasise my use of a clearly and easily understood traditional jazz language for this purpose, because past attempts to employ so-called 'advanced' harmonic idioms with super-imposed 'beat' have not been able to produce recognisable jazz, however broadly the term may be understood. It would indeed be quite feasible, metrically that is, to add a 'beat' to Schoenberg's wind quintet but it would then still not sound like jazz because 'jazz' implies a different harmonic language. This language has become the musical linga franca of our age to a far greater extent than some would have us believe.
© Joseph Horovitz

  • Ensemble
    Concerto Avenna Varsovie
    Elisabeth Chojnacka, harpsichord
    Andrzej Mysinski
  • Ensemble
    Royal Ballet Sinfonia
    Andrew Haveron (violin), Steven Mead (euphonium), David Owen Norris (piano)
    Joseph Horovitz
    Dutton Epoch:
  • 27 NOV 2017
    UMFC Warsaw, Poland
    UMFC Chamber Orchestra
  • 27 NOV 2017
    Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Warsaw
    UMFC Ensemble
    Stanislaw Lopuszynski, harpsichord; Pawel Choina, conductor
  • 10 MAY 2017
    International Chamber Music Festival The Hague
    Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague
    Musica Nexus Ensemble
    Patrick Ayrton, harpsichord; Gilles Apap, conductor
  • 10 MAY 2017
    Nieuwe Kerk Den Haag, Netherlands
    Hague Conservatoire Students
  • 15 DEC 2012
    The Esplanade, Singapore
    Foo Say Ming; Foo Say Ming, conductor
  • 27 MAR 2011
    Marienkirche, Hanau, Germany
    Christian Mause (keyboard)
  • 07 AUG 2010
    Australian Festival of Chamber Music
    Townsville, N. Queensland, Australia
    Camerata of St John's
    Julian Jacobson, piano
  • 20 JAN 2008
    Wroclaw University, Wroclaw, Poland
    Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra
  • 19 JAN 2008
    Wroclaw University, Wroclaw, Poland
    Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra
    David Owen Norris, piano
  • 26 MAY 2004
    Odyssud, Toulouse, France
    Orchestre de Chambre National de Toulouse
    Elizabeth Chojnacka, harpischord; Gerard Causse, conductor
  • 10 OCT 2003
    Théâtre d'Herouville, Normandy, France
    Orchestre de Basse-Normandie
    Elizabeth Chojnacka, harpsichord; Dominique Debart, conductor

    Other Dates:
    11,12 October - Théâtre d'Herouville, Normandy, France
  • 26 NOV 2002
    Town Hall, Clermont-Ferrand, France
    Orchestre d'Auvergne
    Patrick Ayrton
  • 03 SEP 2002
    Festival Musica Ritmo-Sinfonica
    Cava de Tirreni, Italy
    Joseph Horovitz, conductor

It is with unfailing skill and abundant invention that the composer combines his jazz harmonies and rhythms with Sonata, aria and rondo to produce in the outer movements particularly an exhilarating feeling of boundless energy and growing momentum.
The Daily Telegraph,18/01/1968
Sunday night's concert in the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse by harpsichordist George Malcolm and the Baroque Strings of Vancouver led by Norman Nelson, was a real plum in the festival cake and delighted the large audience which fell for Joseph Horovitz's Jazz Harpsichord Concerto in a big way ... I must say that Horovitz's concerto is one of the most delightfully diverting works I have heard in a long time, and I particularly liked the middle movement, a slow Blues, which abounded in Ellingtonian harmonies and also included an elegant cadenza for the soloist.
Lawrence Cluderay, The Province,17/07/1967
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