*** for clarinet, viola and piano

In the recent past when a composer wished to suggest a program or narrative for a composition but not reveal the contents of that program in the title, the symbol of three stars might be used instead. Perhaps the most famous example of that practice is found in Robert Schumann's Album for the Young. In his collection of colorful, often frankly programmatic pieces (Traumerei, the Happy Farmer, Sailor Song, etc.,) Schumann gives three works the enigmatic three stars in lieu of conventional titles. Most scholars believe those works were written for Clara. Robert, always fond of the world of the hermetic, reckoned that Clara alone could easily divine their meanings. The world would (or would not) simply have to guess.

Janacek, too, when trying to find an acceptable title for his second string quartet (he first wanted to call it Love Letters) threatened to give his work the three stars title, but finally settled on Intimate Pages. The last three of his compositions for the piano set On An Overgrown Path, however, utilize the three stars - thereby hiding their suggestive programs behind the stars' orthographic veil.

And so it is with me...

*** was premiered by musicians of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, David Shifrin, Clarinet, Paul Neubauer, viola, and Jon Klibbonoff, piano, on March 3, 1997 at Merkin Hall.