Violin Sonata No. 4 (2022)

Hyeyung Yoon, violin; Mathew Fuerst, piano
World Premiere Performance, Kearney, NE

Program Note

The Violin Sonata No. 4 was jointly commissioned by the Nebraska State Music Teachers Association, the Music Teachers National Association, and Hyeyung Yoon in 2022 and premiered at the state conference on October 21, 2022 in Kearney, NE.

This was the third work commissioned from me by Hyeyung, following a sonata for violin and cello written for her and her husband Greg Beaver (cello) at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and a piano trio completed in 2021.

This sonata is a departure from the music I had been writing over the past 10 years. Up to this point, I had been consistently exploring and developing the chaconne, culminating in the first movement of the piano trio that I completed for Greg and Hyeyung. After writing that movement, I felt I had explored the possibilities of the chaconne as much as I needed to and started trying to find a new direction in my work. In finding this new direction, I explored the various usage of cryptograms and Morse code to develop pitches and rhythms, finding inspiration in the names of Hyeyung, Greg, and their children.

For this sonata, I wanted to compose a piece dedicated to my wife, Rachel, and twin daughters, Mira and Aliza, and continue this new direction. I used cryptograms in a similar manner to the trio, deriving much of the pitch and rhythmic material from their names that appear throughout the entire work. Additionally, as this was dedicated to my family, I sought to reference prior works written inspired by important family moments – at our wedding and the birth of our daughters.

Throughout the sonata the rhythms spell out all three names, however, the pitch material varies across movements. The first movement is a short work in ternary form that mainly uses Aliza’s name for pitches. This resulted in purely quintal harmony, a series of 5ths, that comprise the entire movement. The second movement is a longer ternary form that starts with a gentle lullaby in the piano. The violin plays music that references the last movement of a trio for vibraphone, cello, and piano I wrote as a lullaby for my daughters after their birth. The middle portion of the second movement takes material used in the second movement of my Violin Sonata No. 3, a gift to my wife at our wedding, but develops it further and differently than what I did in that sonata. At this point, Mira’s name is also introduced in the violin. The movement ends with the gentle lullaby. The last movement is a short, fast sonata form that continues the development of Mira’s name as the pitch material in the harmonies.

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