American Landscapes

Year: 2007

Instrumentation: string quartet

Duration: 24 minutes

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Program Notes

American Landscapes is a quartet for strings in 4 movements. As often happens when I write music, an image is evoked by some initial musical ideas. These create a mental landscape which I then follow, whereever it happens to lead. I start at the first notes and these lead to the next, like traveling down a winding road whose ultimate direction and destination is out of sight and unknown. In an abstract way, I was trying to capture something of the America that exists in my imagination – one which happens to be a far better place than the reality. My mental America is populated by the same disparities that exist in the real one: the stark contrasts between hectic cities teeming with people of all kinds, small quiet towns with houses out of Hopper paintings, vast stretches of unpopulated forests and mountains, smoke stacks belching smoke for miles, trains that go on forever, endless fields of grain. It is an America that exists only in books: it lacks, because I dream of better, the violence, crassness and extremism that is as ingrained in American culture as what is best about us.

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