Opus number: 30

Title: The Parable of the Parabola

Instrumentation: solo piano

Date written: 1988, American Academy in Rome

Length: five minutes

Premiere performance: Larry Bell, pianist, November 10, 1988, The Boston Conservatory

Important subsequent performances: Michael Lewin, pianist, Boston Conservatory, September 14, 1990;Larry Bell, pianist, Boston Conservatory, April 13, 1989, April 10, 1998, Boston Conservatory

Recordings: tape at Boston Conservatory library of world premiere, tapes two other Bell performances, and tape of Lewin performance

Program notes: “The Parable of the Parabola” was written in 1988 at the American Academy in Rome. It is a short, one-movement piece dedicated to the memory of my teacher, Vincent Persichetti. The title, an homage to the Persichetti Parables, is also a double entendre: “parabola” is Italian for “parable.” The form of the music also suggests the basic shape of a parabola, an arch that begins as a jazzy scherzo, becomes a song without words, and concludes, palindromic-fashion, with a retrograde return of the jazzy section.

The work was premiered by Larry Bell at a joint faculty concert (with Mary Saunders, soprano) in memory ofVincent Persichetti. The concert included Persichetti’s Parable for Piano, op. 34, Twelfth Piano Sonata (Mirror Sonata), op. 145, ten songs from Harmonium, and Bell’s Four Sacred Songs.