Saturday, January 24, 2009

George Perle (1915-2009)

American composer and Pulitzer Prize winner, George Perle died on Friday.
Here is the NY Times obit. of Perle by Allan Kozinn.

I didn't know him personally but his books were important in the development of my approach to composition and analysis. Don't get me wrong -- my music sounds nothing like his. It's just something about the way that he thought that has crept into my methodology.

His books are staples of graduate work in music: Serial Composition and Atonality, Twelve-Tone Tonality and The Operas of Alban Berg are the most well-known. My personal favorite is The Listening Composer.

My little homage to George Perle is today's canon (which I'll probably expand into a larger work at some point.)

I based it loosely on a 12-rone row that was the basis of one of his string quartets. It is a canon in retrograde with the row in the first half of the right hand part and its retrograde in the second half of the left hand part.

I the ornamentation is free (i.e. non-canonic).

(click on image to enlarge)

I find Perle to be one of the most expressive of the "12 tone" composers (whatever that name really means). The best tribute to a composer is to listen to his music. I'll spend some time with Perle's this evening.

Alex Ross has posted a movement of Perle's Serenade #3 on his blog.

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