A suite for piano composed to celebrate the inheritance of a Steinway grand piano, rich with family history.
for solo piano / 12 min.
in five movements
…of meadow and forest / …of saxophones and scotch / …of winter dawn / …of dangerous passage / …of moonlight
I grew up playing the piano. But as my studies veered into composition, and my working life from there to teaching and administration, playing the piano became less and less part of my life. Still, I have dreamed of having a fine piano in my home for social gatherings with musicians as well as to play myself. When I learned I would inherit a grand piano that has been in my family for two generations, I began to rekindle my relationship with the piano. Wanting something of my own that would be capable of playing when the piano arrives, I composed this set of pieces.
The set’s title is not only about my dreaming of a piano; it also imagines the piano dreaming of various places, moods, or events. Each individual song title is thus the end of a sentence, with “piano dreams” as the subject and verb.
Each piece has its own significance for me, but the last two bear mentioning. The fourth (“…of dangerous passage”) recalls the night when the piano was picked up from my aunt’s home, en route to a rebuilding shop. The truck was stopped for an inspection, forced into a repair shop, reached the town twelve hours late only to go astray, finally arrived after midnight, and set off into the night for more interstate adventures.
For the fifth piece (“…of moonlight”), I asked my mother what music might have been played on this piano in her childhood home, besides student pieces. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, she says, was often open on the music desk. And her father liked to sing two songs uncannily resonant with this suite: “Moonlight Bay” (1912, words by Edward Madden and music by Percy Wenrich) and “There’s A Long, Long Road A-Winding Into The Land Of My Dreams” (1915, words by Stoddard King and music by Alonzo “Zo” Elliott). The lyric that would close my piece if it were sung is “…till the day when I’ll be going down / That long, long trail with you.”
I gave the first performance of Piano Dreams at a small concert of my music at the Harvard Club of New York on February 27, 2008.
—Theodore WiprudBuy Score »