Introduction to the ‘Round Midnight Variations (2001)
for solo piano
A set of variations by prominent American and Italian composers on the Thelonious Monk tune. Commissioned by pianist Emanuele Arciuli and premiered in Italy in 2002. New York premiere at the Miller Theater, November 2002.
The Introduction, Monk sits down to write a tune..., is a fantasy about the composing process. I pictured Monk sitting at the piano, warming up lightheartedly. In the process he stumbles upon snippets of the material which is to become 'Round Midnight. He improvises; over and over, comical and banal renditions are tested and rejected, and with each attempt the composer becomes more agitated. In his frustration, he bangs out some angry chords, and through this he finally hits upon the haunting minor mode which defines this classic melody.
The following composers contributed to the 'Round Midnight Variations project:
Augusta Read Thomas
Filippo Del Corno
Aaron Jay Kernis