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Three Hopper Paintings

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8 min.

Piano

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Program Notes
The work of American painter Edward Hopper had significant influence on artists and culture during the 20th century. Hopper's use of light, shadow and visual drama in his paintings inspired many Hollywood movie directors of the time. "Three Hopper Paintings" was written in the early 1990s. The three movements are connected by a ten-note theme. Much of the music, both melodic and harmonic, is derived from this. In my early twenties at the time, and having recently spent some months in Vienna studying the atonal and twelve-tone works of Arnold Schoenberg, I was greatly influenced by the music and compositional techniques of the Second Viennese School. The first movement, "Nighthawks," is brooding and mysterious attempting to capture those qualities depicted in the painting. The music takes its cue from the early atonal piano works of Schoenberg. "Rooms by the Sea" has a surrealist quality. With some exceptions, the music is predominantly in the sound world of Debussy. Some artistic license is taken with the last two chords to portray a sudden sea breeze closing the door shut. "House by the Railroad" is musically the most literal representation of the three paintings. The sustain pedal is left down for almost the entire movement to simulate the rumbling of an oncoming train. Allegedly, the house in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" was inspired by it. Ironically, I lived in a small carriage house a few hundred feet from an active railroad when I composed the work.

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