top of page


Let's rumba!

The Sonata for Flute and Piano was composed for flutist Mary Palchak, who premiered the three-movement work on February 2, 2019, in Newport Beach, California.

The three movements are:

1 Flute Salad — duration 4:40
2 Cookie Waltz — duration 4:22
3 Jigsaw — duration 3:47

This piece uses sonata formal procedures to develop distinctly “un-classical” thematic elements.

The intention is not to prove anything about the relevance of folk-like materials to the concert setting, nor the reverse, that is, the continued relevance of a style of composition whose heyday was over two hundred years ago. The truth is I just found these materials to be alive and capable of development a step or two further than what is normally realized in their own milieu.

For example, consider the “Rumba” style of the first movement. Typically a Rumba form might be a simple verse-chorus structure, consistent with its typical function in the dance hall or wherever rumbas might normally be performed. But here, by applying classical compositional processes, I was able to find and exploit aspects of the material which might otherwise have remained undeveloped: for example, presenting the principal theme in various distant tonal regions in mm. 65-72, or the breaking up, stretching out, and sequencing of the second half of the theme in mm. 81-89.

The second movement’s main melody was composed before I ever heard the slow movement of Ravel’s Concerto in G, but its spinning out was surely influenced by that composition. But no conscious modeling of any piece was done here. I just “wrote what I heard”.

The third movement draws its thematic material from one of my own very early compositions. It is an example of my eventually seeing more potential in the material than I was to able to discern at the time, leading me to follow new pathways, and hopefully leaving only a few stones unturned.


bottom of page