60 Years of Music for Solo Marimba
Jacksonville University Professor of Percussion and Composition in Recital
Clair Omar Musser (1901–1998)
Etude in C Major, Op. 6, No. 10 (1948)
Alfred Fissinger (b. 1925)
Suite for Marimba (1950)
I. Mist -- II. Rendezvous In Black
Akira Miyoshi (b. 1933)
Torse III. (1968)
I. Thèse -- II. Chant -- III. Commentaire -- IV. Synthèse
Gordon Stout (b.1952)
Three Etudes for Marimba (1975 – 1976)
Etude No. 1 -- Etude No. 6 -- Etude No. 14 “Basically Broke Blues”
Mexican Dance no. 1 (1977)
Paul Smadbeck (b. 1955)
Etude No. 1 (1980)
Jacob Druckman (1928-1996)
Reflections on the Nature of Water (1986)
1. Crystalline -- 2. Fleet -- 3. Tranquil -- 5. Profound -- 6. Relentless
Tony Steve (b. 1959)
Another Moving Violation (2009) -- World Premiere Performance
About Tony Steve
In addition to his responsibilities at Jacksonville University's College of Fine Arts, Division of Music, percussionist and composer Tony Steve has performed as a percussionist with the Jacksonville Symphony (member 13 years), Israeli Festival Orchestra, Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, North Eastern Pennsylvania Symphony, Greenwich Symphony, and Bridgeport Symphony. He toured with A Chorus Line in Europe, appeared in Korea as marimba soloist with the Brooklyn Percussion Ensemble, and performed as percussionist at Madison Square Garden for A Christmas Carol. In addition, he has worked with Henry Mancini, Lou Rawls, Sheri Lewis and The Xavier Cugat Orchestra.
Tony Steve is a Mike Balter Mallet Artist and has appeared on numerous recordings. His latest project is The Guaraldi Sessions produced by horn soloist Aaron Brask. Tony also can be found performing the music of Robert Moore with Karen Adair on her solo release of Sonnets from Assisi, for marimba and soprano in three movements, as well as Release with Free Range and Midnight Clear with Bob Moore.
In October of 2005 Professor Steve's Concerto for Vibraphone was premiered at Jacksonville University. The Blue Jay Opuscule, his collaborative work with graphic artist Barry Wilson, combined the world of printmaking and music into a vehicle for live performance, and was part of a Community Foundation Grant in the Art Ventures program. Additional collaborations with choreographer Cari Martin-Coble have produced works for dance and chamber group. Tony's works are published by Media Press, Keyboard Publications and Percussion Arrangers, and he has won numerous ASCAP writers awards for his compositions, which are performed in America as well as in Europe and Asia. His degrees include a Bachelor of Music from Jacksonville University, and a Master of Music from Ithaca College.
Program Notes by Ed Lein, Music Librarian
As a young teenager Clair Omar Musser (1901–1998) heard a marimba band from Honduras at the 1915 World's Fair in San Francisco, and following this discovery he developed into one of history's most influential mallet artists, with tremendous successes as performer, teacher, and instrument manufacturer. Generally credited with introducing the instrument to American audiences, Musser formed a marimba orchestra that gained international fame, and as a percussion professor at Northwestern University his revolutionary innovations in mallet technique were passed on to future generations. Musser's Etudes were written to help his students overcome specific performance problems, and the Etude in C Major, Op. 6, no. 10, one of his best-known works, provides an early example of the use of four-mallet technique.
When Chicago composer Alfred Fissinger (b. 1925) wrote his Suite for Marimba in 1950, four-mallet technique was still in its infancy, so for three of the work's original four movements he basically composed independent, polyphonic lines as one might write for a string quartet. Each movement is inspired by the composer's experiences during World War II, and the following recounts Fissinger's own description of the work's first two movements: "To some people, the quiet of an early morning mist is a dreary thing; but perhaps others will think of it as I do: a period of complete solitude which affords one many peaceful moments of contemplation. Rendezvous in Black depicts a motorized patrol at midnight through the heavily wooded mountains of Luxembourg. It was pitch black and bitter cold, but the men on the patrol were in good spirits. As the patrol progressed, however, the seriousness and the danger was realized. The rather fast passage work at the end of the movement indicates the speed in which the patrol returned to its base upon completing the mission."
The works featuring marimba by Japanese composer Akira Miyoshi (b. 1933) are directly inspired by the playing of Keiko Abe, the Japanese virtuoso who introduced a more percussive approach to the marimba during the 1960s. From 1955-57 the Tokyo-born Miyoshi studied at the Paris Conservatory, and in Torse III he utilizes disjunct melodic motion and extreme register placement typical of contemporaneous French avante-garde composers, but previously unheard in marimba music. The work also introduces new mallet techniques, such as independent one-handed rolls, which showcased the extraordinary talents of Ms. Abe.
Since 1980, Gordon Stout (b.1952) has been Professor of Percussion at the School of Music, Ithaca College (Ithaca, N.Y.). He studied composition with Joseph Schwantner, Samuel Adler and Warren Benson, and percussion with James Salmon and John Beck, and as a recitalist and recording artist he has premiered both his own compositions and works by other composers. Many of his compositions for marimba have entered the standard repertoire and receive frequent performances internationally, and his two Mexican Dances are among the most popular pieces ever written for the instrument.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Paul Smadbeck (b. 1955) earns his livelihood primarily as a fourth-generation realtor, and he is active in family services organizations. But with both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Music from Ithaca College he also has earned distinction as a performer and composer specializing in the marimba, and his minimalist Rhythm Song (1984) has become a standard repertoire piece recorded numerous times by different artists. With his mesmerizing Etude No. 1 Smadbeck tests the player's control of small interval rotation.
Jacob Druckman (1928-1996) was a leading American composer who won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize in Music for Windows, his first of many works for large orchestra. He was composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic for four years, and composed commissioned works for other major symphony orchestras as well, including those of Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, his home town. Among his numerous teaching positions was an appointment at the Juilliard School (his alma mater), and he headed the composition and electronic music programs at Yale for the twenty years prior to his death from lung cancer. Reflections on the Nature of Water for solo marimba fulfilled a 1986 commission from William Moersch, who premiered the work in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center that same year. The suite has been described as a series of etudes, with shimmering effects that seem to conjure images of the Far East. Druckmam himself observed, "Reflections on the Nature of Water is a small payment towards a very large debt. There were primarily two composers, Debussy and Stravinsky, whose music affected me so profoundly during my tender formative years that I had no choice but to become a composer. It is to Debussy that I doff my hat with these reflections of his magical preludes."