Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra

Peter Schickele

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Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The concerto has always seemed an especially attractive medium to me, not necessarily because of its expectations of virtuosity (although flaunting it when you?ve got it certainly has its place), and emphatically not because of the perception of a concerto as a contest, but because so much of what I write feels song-like; I?m very much at home with the age-old texture of melody and accompaniment. I hope, before I move on, to have the opportunity to write concertos for all the major instruments, and perhaps some of the rarer ones as well.

The oboe is not only one of the major instruments, it is one of my favorite instruments. I?ve always loved its sound, but since moving to New York I have gotten to hear and, in some cases, know some extremely fine oboists who broadened my appreciation of the instrument?s possibilities. I especially remember a concert, probably in the late 1960?s, in which Humbert Lucarelli played a Handel concerto, filling out large melodic leaps with cascading scale passages in a way that raised the hair on the back of your neck, somewhat in the way that John Coltrane?s ?sheets of sound? did. The sweeping scales in the second movement of my concerto were definitely inspired by Bert Lucarelli?s performance.

The first, third and fifth movements of the Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra are song-like, whereas the second and fourth have strong scherzo and dance qualities, including a couple of sections that sound like out-and-out pirate dances to me. The hymn-like tune at the beginning of the middle movement was originally begun as a vocal piece to be sung by my wife, son and daughter at my brother?s wedding, but I couldn?t come up with good works for it, so it ended up as an instrumental chant. The opening and closing of the concerto make use of the oboe?s uniquely soulful singing.

I had not heard Pamela Woods Pecha?s solo playing in person when she approached me about writing a concerto, but I had heard her fine recording of chamber music for oboe and strings by the three B?s (English, that is: Bliss, Bax and Britten) with the Audubon Quartet. I actually already had some oboe concerto ideas in my sketchbooks; although I didn?t end up using any of those earlier ideas, it?s interesting that most of them tended to share the general feeling and tonality of the eventual opening of the concerto.

The work was completed on October 13, 1994. I hate the compromises involved in making piano reductions ? perhaps I would feel differently if I were a more accomplished pianist ? so I often decide to make piano reductions for four hands rather than two. My good friend Jon Kimura Parker is a terrific sight-reader, and I roped him into coming over to my place on February 17, 1995, to help me accompany Pamela on the first read-through of the piece. The first performance of the work took place on July 21, 1995, at the American Music Festival in Duncan, Oklahoma, with Mark Parker conducting the Festival Orchestra.

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1994
Duration 00:24:00
Orchestration Solo Ob.; 2(Picc.) 2 2 2 - 2 2 1 0; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere 21st July, 1995. Pamela Pecha Woods, Oboe, American Music Festival Orchestra, conducted by Mark Parker, Duncan, Oklahoma.

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