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'
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.