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Musica, flute, bass clarinet/clarinet, marimba, and piano, commissioned by The New York New Music Ensemble (completed 1997)

Musica is the final composition in a four-part cycle entitled Quadrivium.   The pieces in Quadrivium are designed to be performed independently or as a complete unbroken cycle (about 50 minutes). Musica is the final piece in the cycle and the only one that involves all the musicians and no electronic component.

Quadrivium was composed in 1994/95 while I was holder of the Fredric A. Julliard/Walter Damrosch 1995 Rome Prize in Music Composition.  The full Quadrivium received its first performance in April of 1998 in Rome. 

The use of the latin term Quadrivium is not without irony.   The Quadrivium, meaning the four ways, (Astronomia, Mathematica (Arithmetica), Geometria, Musica) were the subjects of the medieval liberal arts education.  While composing this collection of pieces, I was a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. The Academy is a place intended for artists and scholars to find inspiration from the great arts of antiquity; I find this humorous.  No indication in my early life pointed toward an eventual stay in Rome for the purpose of greater artistic enlightenment.  I was really amused the day that the former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton presented me with the Rome Prize in the White House!  Today the irony only deepens; I am a Full Professor in a major University with all rights and privileges due!

In the American Academy there hangs a series of portraits of the educated men who were former fellows, most from well-to-do established American families.  Somewhere the process really became a democratic selection with women, people like me from the other side of the tracks, and other non-insiders invited to participate.  It is a fine tradition, but in honesty no longer functions with its original intent.   The original Rome Academy, at the Villa Medici, was invented by Louis XIV to provide home for artists who were copying the imperial design of Rome for translation to imperial France and in particular Versailles.