The Rhythm of the Running Plough

Version for Chamber Ensemble

Stephen Jaffe

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

Quick Overview

Stephen Jaffe?s The Rhythm of the Running Plough was written in the fall and early winter of 1985 when the composer was living in New York and Rome. Its original version for four instruments (alto flute doubling piccolo and flute, violin, cello, and percussion) was composed for the New York New Music Ensemble, which gave the first performances in 1987. Even before the premiere took place, the composition?s alternately rich and delicate sonorities suggested a larger scoring to the composer; this idea was encouraged by Robert Black, who conducts both the New York New Music Ensemble and the Prism Orchestra, (which gave the premiere of the chamber orchestra version at Merkin Hall, NY, in December, 1988). According to the composer, ?...the music is pastoral in nature, making extensive use of drones and open string and percussion sounds as well as the more penetrating and emotional qualities of the winds, horn, and strings. In fact, the work might be said to alternate between the two tendencies.? The composer continues, ?The form is one continuous movement of mosaics united by a single pulse and divided into three main parts, the third presenting the ideas of the first recomposed and in reverse order.? The title of the work is taken from these lines of William Everson:

The fragrance of the earth rises like tule-pond mist
Shrouding me in impalpable folds of sweet, cool smell,
Lulling my senses to the rhythm of the running plough,
The jingle of the harness
And the cries of the gleaming, bent-winged birds.

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1985
Duration 00:14:00
Orchestration (A.Fl./Picc./Fl.) Vln. Vcl. Perc.
Premiere March 1st, 1987. New York New Music Ensemble, conducted by Robert Black. Merkin Concert Hall, New York, New York.