11 Short Piano Pieces (1980-98) is a collection of unrelated works written sporadically over eighteen years. Most are for beginning-to-intermediate pianists, but the last four are
more demanding. They may be played independently of one another,
or in any combination and order of the performer’s choice.
1. Waltz was written as a kind of test-piece for the 1994 Kiwanis Music Festival of Greater Toronto; the test, for young composition students, was to write variations on this theme, but I don't believe anyone actually did so (they had other themes to choose from, apparently)!
2. McGillicuddy’s Rant was written in 1980, the year I started studying composition, and was originally for classical guitar with numerous subsequent variations. I played it for my guitar teacher many years ago, before I had come up with a name for it, and, for reasons I have never been able to fathom he suggested the name McGillicuddy’s Rant. I felt the pentatonic tune had a vaguely Scottish, folk-like quality, and I liked the quirkiness of the name (although my composition bears little resemblance to a musical "rant," which I subsequently learned is a type of lively country dance), so it stuck.
3, 4. The two inventions were commissioned by Frederick Harris Publishing for possible inclusion in the Royal Conservatory of Music graded piano albums, aimed at earlier grades, but were never used. Both are mostly canonic, the first at the octave and the second at the ninth.
5. C-E-G Prelude was written much later (1998), also as a relatively easy student piece in which almost all of the left hand notes are those named in the title.
6. I wrote Sue’s Song for my former sister-in-law in 1986 as her birthday gift, but I don't believe she ever heard it. It's a pretty silly, light-hearted work.
The next three pieces become increasingly chromatic and challenging:
7. Chromatic Noodling was conceived as a study, and is a fun, rather nutty piece.
8. Dream…, is an impressionistic composition written for my friend and former colleague Liana Lam, who performed this entire collection (except for numbers 5 and 10, which had not been written at the time) for the first time in 1994, and who deserves special thanks for coming up with the idea of making a collection of these disparate and previously homeless piano pieces, about which I had mostly forgotten.
9. Broken Glass is short but very challenging. It was written for Barbara Pritchard, also a close friend, who specializes in the performance of insanely-difficult modern works, and she commissioned it through the Canada Council in 1991.
10. Julia’s Prelude was named for my wonderful daughter, and was written in the style of Schumann, just for fun, after a harmony class one day in which we analysed Bach's Prelude to the Bb Fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier (book 1). Yes, there is a connection!
©Clark Winslow Ross
2. McGillicuddy's Rant
3. Invention (syncopated rhythm)
4. Invention (canon at the 9th)
5. C-E-G Prelude
6. Sue's Song
7. Chromatic Noodling
8. Hearing Footsteps … (Dream)
9. Broken Glass
10. Julia's Prelude
11. Waltz (reprise)
(Performed by Liana Lam and recorded by CBC radio's "Musicraft," except for "Julia's Prelude" (perf. by Tim Steeves), and "C-E-G Prelude" (MIDI)