Mark Applebaum
Composer / Performer / Educator

Theme in Search of Variations II (2007)

Aphasia score sample

Bass clarinet (doubling clarinet), piano, percussion, violin, cello.

Although it is an autonomous piece that may be performed on its own, Theme in Search of Variations II invites musical responses in the form of other pieces—variations that might be performed in succession on a given concert. It was originally composed as a provocation to my students of the graduate composition seminar at Stanford University, composers who then wrote highly individual pieces—variations—of their own.

By way of another wrinkle, the students were given exactly one week to compose their responses, a ruthless but pedagogically efficacious challenge that stands in stark contrast to the typical multi-month (and often multi-year) creative ambitus that they find most familiar. (I too composed the theme in one agonizing week.) Despite the imposition of this obstacle, each composer met the challenge in a timely matter and, more important, with remarkable energy, imagination, seriousness, and integrity. The remarkably diverse pieces were then performed by sfSound on a concert titled after my nickname for this kind of squashed artistic timetable: The Double Barline Fire Drill.

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Download score (PDF- 2MB)

A recording of the work appears on the accompanying CD Sock Monkey.