Canzone II

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I wrote Canzone II in the fall of 1960 in Prairie Village, Kansas, (a suburb of Kansas City) while we were visiting my wife's family, who lived there at that time. I was then in the National Music Council-Ford Foundation's young composers' program and wrote this to be performed by a high school orchestra. (It never was.) When I was in the Ph. D. program at the Eastman School of Music I entered this in the competition for the Edward B. Benjamin Award for quiet or restful music; surprisingly enough, it won and was performed that year by Howard Hanson conducting the Eastman-Rochester Symphony Orchestra as part of the Eastman School's 34th annual American Music Festival. A recording of that performance is given here.

(Edward b. Benjamin was a New Orleans oil man who had a thing about quiet music. He sponsored these competitions at Eastman and at Juilliard, and perhaps elsewhere, and underwrote a recording of such music by Stokowski. Hanson also recorded some of the Eastman winners for Mercury, but that was before this piece won the contest.)

The composition is a melodic work using two ideas: the melody introduced by the oboe at the opening; and a contrasting middle section beginning with a melody in the clarinet over plucked strings (more than a little reminiscent of Faure's Pavane). The opening melody returns in the strings to begin the final section.