l’Histoire de quatre musiciens was commissioned by Cadillac Moon Ensemble. It was composed in Cambridge, Massachusetts and completed in March of 2015.
l’Histoire de quatre musiciens is a response to one of my favorite early 20th century masterpieces: Igor Stravinsky’s l’Histoire du soldat. Written in 1918 while Stravinsky was in exile in Switzerland due to WWI, l’Histoire is a piece that defies categories and labels. It winks at theater, ballet, folklorism, cubism, surrealism and neo-classicism, but just as easily defies all of these categorizations by the sheer reality of Stravinsky’s unique stylistic stamp and blurring of high and low art.
For many years I’ve felt a very strong affinity with this piece, as my music often explores theatricality, stylistic borrowings from popular music and blurring of genres.
In my piece, I explore the narrative of the sacrifices that musicians make when choosing to live as musicians. While the soldier in Stravinsky’s l’Histoire tricks the devil in order to achieve economic gain (yet is eventually defeated by the devil), musicians today live life feeling as if they are constantly bargaining with the devil for the right to live as musicians, for the next opportunity to practice a piece and reach closer and closer to perfection, yet never attaining it — for the next opportunity to present their art to the public, all the while struggling to prove the validity of their life choices and artistic choices in a utilitarian society. Stravinky’s piece features the violin as the protagonist, the soldier. My piece showcases each one of Cadillac Moon Ensemble’s virtuosic players as a character who fights against his/her own private devil with cunning and shrewdness, yet in my piece, perhaps reflecting life; there is no unambiguous victor.