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Jay Schwartz: Music for Chamber Ensemble

  • for ensemble
  • 1 1 2 1 - 2 1 2 0 - perc(2), vln, vln, 2 2
  • Duration: 17’
  • Instrumentation details:
    flute (+picc)
    oboe (+c.a
    Cymbales antiques)
    1st clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(Bb)
    Cymbales antiques)
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    bassoon (+cbsn)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    trumpet in C
    1st tenor-bass trombone (+bass tbn
    2nd tenor-bass trombone
    1st violin
    2nd violin
    1st viola
    2nd viola
    1st violoncello
    2nd violoncello
    double bass
  • Composer: Jay Schwartz
  • Commission: Commissioned by NYYD Grupp Ltd, Estonia

Work introduction

Music for Chamber Ensemble is a geometry of lines and curves and intersections following the musical laws of horizonal time and vertical intervals, and the architectural laws of structure and proportion.

In the structure of Music for Chamber Ensemble, lines originating from diametrically opposed points follow a course whose metamorphosis leads to a catharsis.  All events point to or take their reference from this catharsis. It is my objective in my work to craft the architecture of a piece into a single scope of time. My guidelines are principles of architectural harmony, as well as the employment of empirical and intuitive methods of experimenting with time and musical memory, which yield results that correspond often astonishingly to principles of proportion millenia old.

I am imagining a form graspable in its entirety, luminous and scopious, a stretch of time seducing the listener in one particular direction, while constantly maintaining a remembrance of the path behind.  I am imagining travelling over an expansive vastness unfolding a spacious view both forward and backward.

The motor propelling this horizontal course is a slow moving, tenacious and incessant metamorphosis, gradually altering the vertical relationships of lines in microtonal increments. This metamorphosis is a perpetual dynamic state in which harmonic consonance is an inescapable draw, prohibited, however, from resonating statically by the forward thrust of change.

If time be the sole irrevocable element of music, then change is the ultimate answer to structuring time acoustically.  It is my objective in my work to make this element of change as momentous as possible by reducing the quantity of dramatic changes in a composition to a single cathartic event, while maintaining the perpetual state of dynamic metamorphosis.

Infinitely fascinated by the initial change in music: the beginning of a sound, the change from silence to sound, it is my wish to place one single simple harmonic event as if under a microscope and enlarge it by a thousand fold, revealing the occurrence of the beginning of sound, the first barely audible noises of a sound, and the infinitesimal microscopic changes in the metamorphosis of this sound. Or better:  it is my wish to crawl into these spots and linger there in the space between silence and sound.

Jay Schwartz


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Universität , Tartu (EE)
Olari Elts

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