Opus number: 45

Title: The Sentimental Muse, a Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra

Instrumentation: 2-2-2-2;1-1-0-0; 1 perc, hp; strings; Piano reduction published by Bassoon Heritage Editions

Date written: 1997, Boston

Length: seventeen minutes

Commissioner and dedicatee: Kathryn Sleeper

Premiere performance: Kathryn Sleeper, bassoonist, Thomas Sleeper, conductor, University of Miami Orchestra, Miami, Florida, April 19, 1998

Recordings:  North/South Recordings CD (1031) The Sentimental Muse, CD recording with Kathryn Sleeper, bassoonist, the Moravian Philharmonic, Joel Suben conducting. Live performance recording at the University of Miami, CD recording with Kathryn Sleeper, bassoonist, the University of Miami Philharmonic, Thomas Sleeper conducting.

Program notes: “The Sentimental Muse” was composed during the last three weeks of July 1997 and is dedicated to its commissioner, Kathryn Sleeper.

The music is based on two different melodies. One of these melodies was used in my set of preludes and fugues calledReminiscences and Reflections. The other melody is a little sentimental tune that was for me like a muse who followed me around until I could no longer resist her compelling song. Therefore the piece is about the relationship between these two melodies.

The First movement is in sonata form. Its contrasting sections are interrupted by lyrical cadenzas from the solo bassoon. The second movement is in the form of an arch: the central sentimental tune is flanked by fast, syncopated dance sections that are in turn framed by a plaintive song. The last movement transforms the opening movement’s character, e.g., the resolute rhythms of the first movement are brought back in the last movement as vivacious, lilting rhythms. After the climax the music makes one more wistful backward glance to the sentimental tune of the second movement.

The opening forte A’s are a reference point in each of the three movements. In the first the note A is imperfectly the cadence note in d minor. In the second movement the A is the cadence note in the original “song” in F major as well as in the f#-minor  that occurs midway. The bassoon has the last word with its contra A affirming the dotted rhythm of the borrowed song.

A piano reduction is published by Bassoon Heritage Editions in Florida.

Movement titles:




Reviews: The Sentimental Muse, recording

This composer’s music [i]s the direct heir of Copland and, as such, presents a sort of present-day Americana. . . .
he is a composer who wants to communicate in direct terms, regardless of any current trends and fashions. Though
fairly traditional, his music approaches the American symphonic tradition in a most refreshing way, which is to my mind his most endearing quality.

-Hubert Culot–