Epitaphion

Sydney Hodkinson

Rental
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

During the late 1980?s, eleven close friends and relatives of mine died, and this cumulative loss has, naturally, affected and saddened me deeply. Moreover, five of the friends were in their prime of life. My wife continued to remind me that I could not keep composing a ?memorial piece? for every loved one who passed away, although I seemed to keep trying (e.g.:"Divine Poems for Chorus", Part III of the "Cantata Appalachia", "Threnody" for violin and Orchestra, "Two Poems" for cello and piano, "Lament for Woodwind Trio",?). This work, generated by feelings of loss, indignation, even anger and remembrance, is perhaps a summation ? dirge ? memorial, a response to my wife?s comment.

"Epitaphion" (lit. GR. ?over a tomb?) is an inscription in memory of those buried or cremated, a brief statement summarizing, often epitomizing, deceased friends. The formal design of the composition is quite simple: (1) for approximately the first eight minutes, a long series of chords and two-note sighing motive gain momentum towards more declamatory gestures which finally dissipate into the highest register of the orchestral fabric. (2) A chorale-like section ? actually a brief Hymn ? leads back to a truncated reprise of the earlier sonorities; then a short reminiscence of the Hymn returns prior to an unresolved, final cadence.

The pitch material for the fourteen-minute work is derived from two short, and very personal motives: that of my own name (Eb ? D ? E ? B), combined with the descending whole-tone (A# - G# - F# ) "Lebewohl" (?farewell?) motto, the latter used by Beethoven and Mahler, among many others.

"Epitaphion" was completed in May of 1990 in Ormond, Florida following the death of the American musician Rayburn Wright, a dear friend of many years. The scoring calls for triple woodwinds, including two piccolos, English horn, bass clarinet, and contrabassoon, eleven brass, timpani, three percussionists, harp, piano/celesta, and strings.

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1990
Duration 00:13:15
Orchestration 3(2Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
Premiere February, 1991. Eastman School of Music, Sydney Hodkinson, conductor; Rochester, NY.

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