From the composer:
The nine classic Greek Muses were the goddesses of inspiration for literature, science and the arts. In current English language, a “muse” is usually a person who inspires an artist, writer or musician. As a verb, the term refers to being absorbed in thought in a meditative, and perhaps inconclusive, way. These thoughts or, in this case, the movements of this work, may be referred to as “musings”.
For the titles of the complete work and each movement, I chose the five Muses most closely associated with the performance of music and then ordered them in a way that seemed to create a composition with shape, direction and balance. Each Muse is represented in Greek mythology by a symbol.
Euterpe (Song) Aulos (a flute-like musical instrument)
Terpsichore (Dance) Lyre (a harp-like string instrument)
Melpomene (Tragedy) The classic tragic mask
Thalia (Comedy) The classic comic mask
Erato (Lyric Poetry) Cithara (a musical instrument in the lyre family)
The arrangement of the movements in this order results in a work that has the somewhat unusual tempo structure of “slow-fast-slow-fast-slow”. Given that these are musical “musings”, it seemed appropriate to end on a thoughtful note rather than having the more typical big finish.
The character of each movement is, of course, inspired by association with the Muse of the title. “Euterpe” emphasizes melody, while “Terpsichore” is driven by rhythm. “Melpomene” has a sad quality, with “Thalia” being something of a zany romp. “Erato” concludes the work with a lyricism and thoughtfulness, and perhaps most closely depicts the act of musing. The composition as a whole is meant to showcase the lyrical, sonorous and technical capabilities of the tuba, with the piano sometimes being an equal chamber partner and sometimes in a more accompanying role.
- John Stevens
Score and part included: tuba