Swingtime and Fugue in C minor


Swingtime and Fugue in F major - (2010)    

for piano


A recent and very fine concert given twice by the Staatskapelle under the direction of Michael Gielen combined Ives' The Unanswered Question and Central Park in the Dark, both composed in 1906 as "contemplations," along with Zimmerman's Nobody knows the trouble I see, a Concert for trumpet and chamber orchestra (1954) and Beethoven's Pastorale. The theme for Ives' Question is never resolved, per the dramaturgy of his construction, but it sticks with me each time I hear the work anew.


For the fun of it and because the concert under maestro Gielen was so memorable, I took the theme and bent it slightly, altering the C sharp into C natural for the purpose of a "reference to" rather than a direct quote. The harmonic implications then offer that well-known major-minor seven chord as a reference tonality, and from this I built the theme and structure to this work for piano. Ives' triplets fit of course into a swing time feeling at other tempi, and transpositions of the theme work to flesh out the two-form work.



The fugue is a the opening theme in transposition beginning on C. The chromatic ascent of the extension of the head motive into a more lengthy fugue subject offers the "pushed" syncopation in the last eighth of the first and third beats in 12/8. The answer comes appropriately at the dominant.


The score is 4 pages, with an approximate performance time of 3' 15."  


The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano score.


Swingtime and Fugue in C minor