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Instrumental

While much of the music on this page is geared toward younger students, many of the compositions in this section are aimed at more advanced students. These include a series of sonatinas for various wind instruments and piano which

I labored over for more than a decade. Now that cycle, which I consider to be my signature contribution

as a composer of music for student musicians, is finally complete at thirteen.*

Someone recently asked me what "sonatina" means. It means "little sonata." These sonatinas are all written in a tonal Neoclassical style using traditional sonata forms on a somewhat smaller scale. But that only refers to length, not difficulty level. They are not beginner material, all being in the grade 4 - 5 range of difficulty.

Stravinsky once famously commented that Vivaldi did not write over 400 concertos, but wrote the same concerto 400 times. That is of course a gross exaggeration, but I get his point, and I will say here that I could stand accused of the same thing in this series of sonatinas...although I think that puts me in very good company!  I made a deliberate decision for them to be a set of companion pieces with strong family ties, that will give the students of different instruments who play them a similar experience.  They all feature home keys in a minor mode, and for each of them, the first movement is a strict sonata-allegro with similar treatment and proportions that does not repeat the exposition, the slow movement is some type of a variation form (theme and variations, chaconne, or passacaglia) in a related major key, and the finale is a home key rondo in 6/8 or similar meter, but with some sort of metric irregularity. Most of them have unifying thematic relationships between the movements, and there are even a few thematic echos relating some of the different sonatinas to each other.

Several of these solos are also available in concert band transcriptions that are titled "concertinos" (little concertos).

 

I have also adapted four of the wind sonatinas for string instruments. Since many great composers such as Bach and Vivaldi were prolific recyclers of their own instrumental concerti, and even Mozart did it at least once, it would appear that the practice has some sound precedents. So I decided if it was good enough for those masters, it certainly is

good enough for me and would open up a whole new market for these works.


* Ten of those, for the most popular instruments in their families, are new work written specifically for the instrument named in the title.

The last three, for down-family instruments--specifically tenor sax, baritone sax, and bass clarinet--are transpositions of earlier

pieces in the series. A few instruments--such as piccolo, English horn, Eb clarinet, and alto clarinet--are left out completely. 

I may eventually recycle existing sonatinas for those instruments, but sadly, you have to weigh the

marketability of such works when deciding where to draw the line. 

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