Harold Farberman, Double Concerto for Violin and Percussion

By Harold Farberman

Written for the concert Making Music: Composer-Conductors, performed on Feb 9, 2007 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

The “Double Concerto” was born of affection and admiration for Guillermo Figueroa. It was composed in 2005-2006. It is a work I wanted to create.

We became close friends when Guillermo became interested in learning to conduct. A measure of his musical abilities is that while his skills as an extraordinary violinist have remained intact, he has also excelled as a conductor and is currently the music director of two first-rate orchestras.

When I first began planning a “Concerto for Guillermo” I decided that each of the three movements would be a musical portrait of the Figueroa family: Movement One–Guillermo; Movement Two–the children; Movement Three–Valerie and Guillermo. It soon became clear to me that the second movement—the children’s movement—would need more than a single voice (in fact, three instruments would have been perfect), but instead I opted for one more solo voice. So Guillermo’s Concerto morphed into a “Double Concerto”

Given my background, the choice for the second solo instrument was never in doubt. The pairing of a percussionist and a violinist as concerto partners intrigued me on several levels. I was (and am) not personally aware that a violin/percussion double concerto exists, but was (and am!) very aware of the potential hazards of such a pairing. Ultimately the challenge was the decisive factor in choosing a percussionist as the second soloist.

Because of the nature of the work, one compositional factor should be pointed out. I chose to create all musical motives and subsidiary themes from the given names of the family members. For example the letter G becomes the pitch “G.” Beyond “A” through “G” the letter “H” becomes “A,” the letter “I” becomes “B,” the letter “J” becomes “C,” etc. Repetitions of pitches (name letters) are moved upward or downward by half steps, depending on the musical text.

Movement One: for Guillermo

Both solo instruments represent the young and maturing Guillermo—sensitive, bold, energetic, and finally, contemplative of the future.

Movement Two: for the childrena scherzo

Imagine three children at play—loud, spirited, sometimes spiteful (“tag [shove]-you’re it”). Finally a moment of respite, and parents remember. . .Suddenly, energy restored, chaos.

Movement Three: Valerie and Guillermo

Husband/wife, family and both sides of life, anger and love. A final contemplation of a different future.

The Concerto bears the following dedication: “To Guillermo and the Music in his life: Valerie, Giovanna, Sofia, Valerie.”