Monday, 24 November 2014

Piano Sonata No. 2 in C Minor

I   Andante con fuoco – 82 quarter notes per minute
II  Adagio – 42 quarter notes per minute
III Presto; cantabile apenato – 128 quarter notes per minute

The C Minor Piano Sonata was written in June and July 1976

Titled in Gaelic “Mo Ghràdh Caillte” (Lost Love in English) the sonata is best described as a condensed musical autobiography about the Vancouver years.

In summer 1976 I was living alone in Vancouver and most evenings, after returning home from work, were spent playing the piano and composing music. That summer was a difficult and sometimes painful, faith-testing period that I was struggling through.

In July that year, the City of Montreal was hosting the summer Olympics. I recall a few evenings sitting on the piano bench and listening to but not watching Olympic activities on the television in the other room in between playing the piano and pausing to write down by hand the finale movement in staved notation books. (The technologies available today now make music notation so very easy.) The blaring television was a distraction and how the music managed to be conceived, developed and written out so quickly is a mystery.

The short first movement titled, “Is Mise Aonarach a-Rithist” (I am Alone Again) reflects and expresses mixed feelings of frustration, despair, anger and utter hopelessness over events in life that cannot be controlled or changed, especially concerning a strained relationship at that time.

The repeated 4-bar main theme of the second movement, titled, “A Song of Thanksgiving to the God of Israel” was composed in summer 1974, revised in 1975 upon learning that someone had safely fled Vietnam following the fall of Saigon, and then the music set aside. That short music phrase had been written to express a very deep and heartfelt gratitude to the God of Israel for his compassion; a gratitude that words just could not express. In June 1976, taken from the proverbial shelf and dusted off, five variations on the theme were written.

Thirty years later in 2006, without knowing the title or the history behind the music, Kimberly asked me if she could use this particular piece of music for her wedding. I refused, knowing only too well the history. After many repeated requests from Kimberly, and later some intervention from Kie, I relented and agreed. Only a few weeks before the wedding day, the music was quickly rewritten and arranged for a string quartet.

A wedding is a-once-in-a-lifetime event. 

On Saturday, August 12, 2006, while the string quartet played, “A Song of Thanksgiving to the God of Israel” both Kie and I walked Kimberly down the aisle to be married.

How many fathers are given the privilege of composing the music for their daughter’s wedding procession? 

How many fathers have composed wedding music for a daughter thirty years before the event and five years before her birth?

Today, with the same deep, heart-felt gratitude to the God of Israel, I can only say thank you Lord.

March 18 2011
The Oddblock Station Agent

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