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This work was commissioned for the New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music and written in August-September of 1998. Douglas Beilman had asked that the piece have some connection with the middle European tradition of music, and this immediately got me thinking about my time in Hungary in 1983-4. nI spent ten months living in Budapest, studying composition at the Lizst Academy and preparing a Ph.D. thesis on the music of Bela Bartok. Working on this piece stirred memories of this beautiful yet haunted city, with its old stone buildings still pockmarked with bullet holes from previous wars and uprisings. Budapest was a lively artistic city in 1984 (despite a drab influence of totalitarianism) and full of extremely fine musicians, from 'classical' geniuses like pianist Zoltan Kocsis to brilliant Gypsy players in the restaurants. Some of this life and urban bustle is in the piece, as is the memory of Bartok whose brilliant chamber music became an almost obsessive influence on me at the time. This is most apparent in the assertive horn theme in the middle section.
Memories of Budapest is in a continuous movement, divided into three sections: slow-fast-slow. The reflective chorale that begins the piece returns at the end, expanded into a more lyrical statement. The substance of the work is contained in the fast middle section, which explores three interrelated themes. The first is a vigorous and buffeting melody dominated by the string, while the second is announced on the horn and low strings. A restatement of the opening leads to a brief fugue and free development of the first theme, followed by the assertive horn theme mentioned earlier. The music drives to a sustained climax and suddenly disappears, to be replaced by the chorale once again (despite attempts to resurrect itself again).
Commissioned by Douglas Beilman for Adam New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music held in Nelson on January 30th, 1999
one movement divided into three sections: slow-fast-slow
16 Jan 1999: Performed by Edward Allen (horn) and members of the New Zealand String quartet and New Zealand Chamber Orchestra; Christchurch Cathedral
Performed by Edward Allen (horn);Dmitri Alanossov (violin 1); Laura Thomson(violin 2); Gillian Ansell (viola 1);Vyvyan Yendoll (Viola 2); James Tennant (cello)