for orchestra

James Erber

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for orchestra

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Composer James Erber

Year of Composition



ca. 20'

Student Difficulty

Categories (all composers)
Catalogue ID ce-je1p1


Passeggiata was written between late 1989 and February 1990 to a commission from the Festival of the Arts for Bromley Borough. After the scheduled first performance was cancelled, I withdrew the piece, pending revision.  A tentative start on a new version was made as early as December 1990, but the score only assumed its present form between November 2016 and May 2017.

The title commemorates a walk along the banks of the Thames in Oxford with my partner, Morgan Gordon and our friend, Agostino Lupoli on 21st August 1989, and also refers to the journey taken by the music during the three sections which constitute the piece.  During the first two sections, woodwind (divided into three trios, occupying the high, middle and low registers respectively), brass and strings each play a specific type of music, which slowly transforms into the strands of the accompaniment to a cabaret song by Morgan, the melody of which appears in the final section, played by a trio of solo violin, flute and bass clarinet.

Her song is repeated four times, each time in a more fragmentary version, before finally vanishing into thin air, leaving only a long-held string chord.

The score is prefaced by a quotation from Saul Bellow’s novel Humboldt’s Gift:

“Last of all – remember: we are not natural beings but supernatural beings.

Lovingly, Humboldt”

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