Music for String Quartet and Orchestra

I am very pleased to introduce this new work to you. It was a joy to do from the first note -- for the Orchestra, the Quartet and one grateful composer. To Hein Van de Geyn (Challenge Jazz), Frits Bayens (Producer) and Fred Dekker (Radio) I offer my thanks and appreciation -- getting something like this out of the studio and into your house is not easy, and the hard work and diligence of these men make my world a better place.

Now for some history - a few years ago I had a project for the Metropole Orchestra and Kenny Wheeler. The violist, Mieke Honingh, came to me and told me of their Quartet -- named after the great painter, Gustav Klimt - and asked me to consider writing a piece for them. I was pleased but busy and the months passed. Mieke would not be denied, though, and soon I received a note from Frits, asking for a project for String Quartet AND Orchestra. It was both challenging and scary, a delicious package. I set to work and wound up with over 50 pages of sketches - that's a lot for me. I began to write the score and ended up with three movements - # 1, 2 and 4 on the CD.

The recording was very successful and the mood in the studio - from musicians and producers - was - MORE! We decided to add some time to fit a CD and # 3 came into being. We recorded the whole thing again, with the additions, and decided to try and get it into your hands, somehow. It took about three or four years and at times I despaired of it ever seeing daylight. The aforementioned people made it happen.

While writing for the Mel Lewis Orchestra in 1980, I began to "go over to the other side" - composing for classical players and trying to be very "in your face" and ultra modern. I had spent most my life in jazz music and so NY commercial work and I was very hungry for some new horizons to investigate. Cologne and Stockholm were very open to a new face so, with their cooperation, I was allowed to experiment, fail, succeed and grow in my craft. Without them I would have remained trapped by my past.

Much of this new music fell on surprised and quizzical ears - when you establish a street corner in the Arts you are not supposed to travel very far away - people depend on you remaining where you were. Understandable but dangerous. You are asked to be who you were yesterday and that isn't the best way to mature. So I was happily engaged in electronic One Man Shows (one actually caused babies to cry - I was SO proud!), Chamber Music (Werner Herbers and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble was my first effort), and things gradually got better, culminating in "Red Balloons" for Jim Pugh and Dave Taylor, "Pieces of Pieces" for the Swedish Radio Symphony and the "One Man Show" just mentioned. Some of this will be available on my website - AritstShare - since it's a little too much for a jazz recording.

In 1987, a gradual change began to appear in my music - she was a tall, lovely woman named Jan and for the first time in my life, I got REALLY happy - that will cool down the most radical bomb thrower and my sense of time, space and patience grew accordingly. This work is a culmination of where I have been in my life and where I was fours years ago - it is tonal (with spice) and lyric - "American Beauty" came in on the wings of the Music God. I really have no idea who wrote it and I still hear it with the pleasure of a consumer, not a maker. When the Waltz happened to me in Movement 3 (The Frolic) I just let it run its course. In general, the orchestration is a result of too many odds and ends to list - all of the many and varied things I have done over the past 63 years contributed and I did study and listen carefully to get better. So, you now have some music that I am glad to send to you - I still enjoy it and hope you will also.

In closing, I want to thank the Quartet, especially Arlia de Ruiter, the first violinist. She and Jim McNeely play my music perfectly, the timing and phrasing just as I heard it. Very unusual and very welcome. Mieke, Pauline and Bastiaan are all I could want in just plain superior playing. The Orchestra is the best time I have in studio, in Europe or anywhere else. They have become one of the essential voices in music.

I will forever be indebted to the late Heiner Muller-Adolphi and Wolfgang Hirschmann (WDR-Koln), Bosse Broberg (Swedish Radio), Earle Brown, my dear friend and teacher, Joel Thome, who got me at ease in front of 95 people and Werner Herbers, who encouraged me and told me the truth. The list is very long but can conclude here with a deep bow to Dutch Radio and all who toil in its garden. Thanks - I could not have done it without you all.

Bob Brookmeyer

Fanfares and Folk SongListen!
American BeautyListen!
A Frolic and a TuneListen!
Wood DanceListen!

Bob Brookmeyer, composer/conductor

The Metropole Orchestra

The Gustav Klimt String Quartet:
Arila de Ruiter, violin
Pauline Terlouw, violin
Mieke Honingh, viola
Bastiaan van der Werf, cello