Eugene Kurtz


March 14, 2006
at the REDCAT theater
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles
8:30 pm

Logo I for clarinet, piano and percussion quartet by Eugene Kurtz
Los Angeles Premiere
According to most dictionaries, “logo” is an abbreviation of “logogram” and is defined as a character or symbol used to represent a word or phrase, as CBS, NBC, and ABC represent the three major American television networks. Perhaps the best justification for the word as a title for my piece might be the fact that each of the two movements, “Introduction” and “Breakdown,” seemed to be a sort of “logo” in itself. Each one of them seemed to represent or characterize precise and perhaps contradictory ways of thinking at the time I was composing the piece. The “Introduction” tries on occasion to recall certain nocturnal sounds that fascinated me when I was a child and is in turn meditative, poetic, and assertive. It advances in a somewhat discontinuous flow in the form of a dialogue that is enriched with moments of silence and ever changing patterns of thought. The “Breakdown,” which follows the first movement without pause, is in complete opposition to the “Introduction.” It is minimal as regards musical material, obsessive in character, and inexorable as regards rhythmic flow. The principles of ostinato and repetition are exploited to the fullest, and both of the instruments, especially the clarinet, seem to be caught up in a marathon of notes that can end only as abruptly as it began. The piano part alternates between diatonic and chromatic clusters, and the clarinet part might remind one of the riffs played by Benny Goodman in some of his recordings from the 1930’s and 1940’s. The title, “Breakdown,” comes from an obscure and supposedly frenetic African American dance of the nineteenth century. Nothing remains of the dance but its name, so I felt completely free to deal with the rhythmic element according to my own fancy.
— Eugene Kurtz

EUGENE KURTZ (b. 1923) is an American composer who has made his home in Paris, France, for many years. He has studied there with Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud and Max Deutsch and has returned to the United States on different occasions to teach at The University of Michigan, The Eastman School of Music, The University of Illinois and The University of Texas. In Paris, Mr. Kurtz has written music for the theatre, radio, television and the cinema. His works for orchestra and chamber ensembles have been widely performed both in the U.S. and in Europe. He has received commissions from The Musical Arts Association of Cleveland, Radio France and the French Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Radio France honored Mr. Kurtz on October 27, 1979, with “Eugene Kurtz Day,” for which he selected two programs of music — chamber and symphonic — of past and present composers who are important to him and also included three works of his own. In 1983, Mr. Kurtz was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant.


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