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Work Samples

American Overture

This is my latest orchestral work. It is a celebration of American music.

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About Larry

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Grammy-nominee Larry Hoffman is an award-winning composer whose works have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe. While earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in theory and composition from the Peabody Conservatory, he received grants from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard and the American Music Center.  Upon graduation, Larry was the recipient of Peabody’s Gustav Klemm Award and Otto Ortmann Prize for compositional excellence.  Among his other works are Music For... more

Blues for Harp, Oboe, and Violoncello

Blues For Harp, Oboe, and Violoncello (1986) was my first effort to create a blues-inspired work that could distill and express blues essence via classical instrumentation and contemporary compositional technique. The mission to put blues on the serious concert music stage was the primary force leading me to composition; I was hoping that this "experiment" would be successful.

The performance presented here (and on my CD) is the result of three extraordinary talents.

Thanks to CRS Records, my piece fell into the accomplished hands of cellist Bryan Dumm, Yolanda Kondonassis, and oboist John Mack. Mr. Dumm is a well-regarded veteran of the acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra. Ms. Kondonassis is a world-renown harpist who made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at age eighteen. She is celebrated as one of the world's premiere and most recorded solo harpists; John Mack was hailed by the New York Times as "the dean of American oboists," regarded as among the top two or three in the world.

“I should have had holes put in my shoes to create a more authentic performance," legendary oboist John Mack quipped to me before the Cleveland premiere.

Needless to say, I was honored to include the artistry of these three stellar musicians on my CD.

I am proud to say that Blues For Harp, Oboe, and Violoncello has proven to be my most- performed piece; one that has gotten the attention of fine musicians from around the USA and Europe. The world premiere was performed by Pittsburgh

Orchestra musicians (who performed the work in PA twice). It was played then in Cleveland, OH ; Washington, D.C.; Stockholm, Sweden; Jackson, MS; and, last I heard, at the Breckenridge Music Festival in Breckenridge, Colorado. I suspect that it was performed in other cities as well -- at least the musicians other cities have acquired score and parts from me with that intention!

String Quartet No. 3

Composed in 2019, this quartet follows my second , which was conceived from a desire to present the blues in a polytonal frame, presenting it in four keys-- sequentially-- and eventually , simultaneously. String Quartet No. 3, on the other hand, is a visceral response to that work. It is instead the result of my desire to tackle the blues head-on. I began once again to work with its spirit, taking the liberty to mine developmental avenues as they presented themselves.

MSD Strong

In remembrance of the horrendous Parkland massacre. A dedication to the survivors' bravery and commitment -- as we remember and mourn the seventeen slain students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida; February 14, 2018.

My orchestral tribute to the Parkland Five

This is a programmatic work intended to recreate my musical vision of this event, separated into six brief movements:

I. Prologue and Routine / II. The Classroom / III. Heinous Monster /

IV. Dead Silence / V. Endless Grief / VI. MSD!: March For Our Lives.

What is not heard in this replication is the chant that the orchestra players are to shout in the last movement : “MSD !…. MSD STRONG !, a rallying call of the school’s initials shouted to and from the groups of students who were marching.

I was moved to compose this work as a response to the infinite sadness, empathy, and ANGER that I felt, having the privilege of standing with these proud and brave survivors that day in Washington, DC.. this is how I described it :

"Yesterday, at 8 AM I traveled by train to the “March For Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C… I went there in support of the amazing young people who, it seems, might be this nation’s only hope to ever reverse the absurd homicidal direction that the lack of reasonable gun laws has allowed. This very intelligent and effective movement is now comprised of young people around the country who have suffered gun violence. It has partnered survivors of the latest horrendous massacre at Parkland, Florida with those of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Newtown, Pulse, Charleston, et al . It has also joined forces with youth groups in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities that have long been dealing with gun violence— or the threat of it— every single day.

The speakers ranged in age from eight to nearly 20 years of age-- they were not speaking out of political bent or ego of position; they were angry and showed justification; they were passionate and let their passion erupt; they were politically aware of the difficult political realities that lay ahead, and showed a firm commitment to stay on course. Each had his or her own poetry and was unique.

I am hardly ashamed to say, that tears were in my eyes most of the day… it was deadly serious, endlessly sad, and yet excitingly hopeful.

Scattered, but in force among the crowd, were many students, both current and alumni— from Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ( “MSD!!” as they chanted loudly throughout the event..”MSD STRONG!!”). These were the young people who suffered the life-changing trauma and unfathomable grief at losing family and friends to the latest of heinous mass child murder in the United States.

The crowd of 800,000 people, of all ages, ethnicities, and denominations was overwhelming. We were all standing so close to each other that our bodies seemed linked as one, to the cause.

I picked up conversations that led me to believe that some of the survivors were next to, and behind me.

Turning to a girl directly behind me I said, “Were you there that day?” She responded softly, “No, but my friend was,” pointing to a younger girl standing next to her. The second girl looked at me with tears in her eyes, baring a depth of grief I have never before seen in the eyes of anyone. As she looked at me—as if for answers— all I could say was, “I am so sorry that happened to you and your friends.” I heard myself say, ”..it is unspeakable”. A woman who I believe was her mother, and perhaps an affiliate at the school, locked eyes with me, echoing the depth of her daughter’s grief. A young man was to my right, and it occurred to me that he might too be part of the Stoneman group. I asked him if he was at the scene, and he told me that he wasn’t in the same room as the shooter but down the hall or in another building close by… His eyes, too, welled up throughout the day.

I had precious little to offer … besides a continuing commitment to become more involved. More a part of this heroic, historical national movement —however I could—a movement that exposes one of the ugliest, gaping rips in the American texture. I said to an older African American gentleman standing next to me with his family, “Today we are all MSD.”

In remembrance of the horrendous Parkland massacre. A dedication to the survivors' bravery and commitment -- as we remember and mourn the seventeen slain students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida; February 14, 2018.

My orchestral tribute to the Parkland Five

This is a programmatic work intended to recreate my musical vision of this event, separated into six brief movements:

I. Prologue and Routine / II. The Classroom / III. Heinous Monster /

IV. Dead Silence / V. Endless Grief / VI. MSD!: March For Our Lives.

What is not heard in this replication is the chant that the orchestra players are to shout in the last movement : “MSD !…. MSD STRONG !, a rallying call of the school’s initials shouted to and from the groups of students who were marching.

I was moved to compose this work as a response to the infinite sadness, empathy, and ANGER that I felt, having the privilege of standing with these proud and brave survivors that day in Washington, DC.. this is how I described it :

"Yesterday, at 8 AM I traveled by train to the “March For Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C… I went there in support of the amazing young people who, it seems, might be this nation’s only hope to ever reverse the absurd homicidal direction that the lack of reasonable gun laws has allowed. This very intelligent and effective movement is now comprised of young people around the country who have suffered gun violence. It has partnered survivors of the latest horrendous massacre at Parkland, Florida with those of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Newtown, Pulse, Charleston, et al . It has also joined forces with youth groups in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities that have long been dealing with gun violence— or the threat of it— every single day.

The speakers ranged in age from eight to nearly 20 years of age-- they were not speaking out of political bent or ego of position; they were angry and showed justification; they were passionate and let their passion erupt; they were politically aware of the difficult political realities that lay ahead, and showed a firm commitment to stay on course. Each had his or her own poetry and was unique.

I am hardly ashamed to say, that tears were in my eyes most of the day… it was deadly serious, endlessly sad, and yet excitingly hopeful.

Scattered, but in force among the crowd, were many students, both current and alumni— from Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ( “MSD!!” as they chanted loudly throughout the event..”MSD STRONG!!”). These were the young people who suffered the life-changing trauma and unfathomable grief at losing family and friends to the latest of heinous mass child murder in the United States.

The crowd of 800,000 people, of all ages, ethnicities, and denominations was overwhelming. We were all standing so close to each other that our bodies seemed linked as one, to the cause.

I picked up conversations that led me to believe that some of the survivors were next to, and behind me.

Turning to a girl directly behind me I said, “Were you there that day?” She responded softly, “No, but my friend was,” pointing to a younger girl standing next to her. The second girl looked at me with tears in her eyes, baring a depth of grief I have never before seen in the eyes of anyone. As she looked at me—as if for answers— all I could say was, “I am so sorry that happened to you and your friends.” I heard myself say, ”..it is unspeakable”. A woman who I believe was her mother, and perhaps an affiliate at the school, locked eyes with me, echoing the depth of her daughter’s grief. A young man was to my right, and it occurred to me that he might too be part of the Stoneman group. I asked him if he was at the scene, and he told me that he wasn’t in the same room as the shooter but down the hall or in another building close by… His eyes, too, welled up throughout the day.

I had precious little to offer … besides a continuing commitment to become more involved. More a part of this heroic, historical national movement —however I could—a movement that exposes one of the ugliest, gaping rips in the American texture. I said to an older African American gentleman standing next to me with his family, “Today we are all MSD.”

  • MSD STRONG: IN MEMORY OF SEVENTEEN SLAIN

    This is a work I created to commemorate the senseless slaying of seventeen students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. It is dedicated to the fallen students, and to "The Parkland Five," who courageously stood their ground in the days and weeks that followed, and who still fight for what is right. In remembrance of the horrendous Parkland massacre.

Antics for Oboe and Clarinet

On my way to Austin, Texas, bound for a music festival, I started musing about a new piece. I'm not sure why, but the concept of an extended duet struck me. The choice of clarinet and oboe seemed to follow naturally -- two voices I loved and admired :)

Casual voices diving and twisting, meeting harmoniously then darting quickly away-- each to its highest heights and deepest lows.... sweeping....

And so this went on all weekend. In airplanes, hotels, coffee shops, airports... until I was entirely intrigued.

When I arrived back home, I had a new piece... one that kept growing on me...

  • Antics for Oboe and Clarinet

    This piece came as a complete surprise while I was traveling to and from a music event in Austin, Texas. On airplanes, motels, coffee houses,,,,,,the prospect of counterpoint between these two related but entirely different instruments intrigued me. It was a long discussion :)
  • Pages of Anna

    This work was featured on my CD "Works of Larry Hoffman: Contemporary American Music." It is scored for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and Harp. It is a computer realization sequenced and mixed by award-winning composer Geoff Knorr. This music was engendered by my wrangle with budding love gone awry. Some people singled out this work as their favorite on the program.
  • Pages of Anna: score.JPG

    Here is a look at some pages of "Pages of Anna" :)
  • Works of Larry Hoffman .jpg

    Pages of Anna is featured on my CD: "Works of Larry Hoffman"

String Quartet No.5 Through a Glass Darkly

2020 was a very challenging year for most of us. In the midst of the pandemic, the governmental unrest leading to unspeakable violence, the economic peril and joblessness leading to food lines--despite all of this there were also shards of bright light peeking through the cracks, denying the darkness. This, my latest work of 2020, is the result of that dichotomy.

  • String Quartet No. 5 / Through A Glass Darkly

    2020 was a very challenging year for most of us. In the midst of the pandemic, the unrest leading to unspeakable violence, economic peril and joblessness, there was also the bright light of hope that showed through the cracks in the darkness. This, my latest work, is the result of that dichotomy.

String Quartet No.2

In String Quartet No. 2 I extended my concept, employing four different keys -- sequentially -- each joined to the other in turn, until all were spun together as a fugue standing as the work's climax. The Dover Quartet, who recorded this work as The Old City Quartet, also premiered this piece in concert. The Dover ensemble is simply wonderful; and, at the time of the recording, was the finest string quartet at the renowned Curtis Institute of Music -- and the first string quartet in residence there.

Among their many prizes and awards are as follows: three Special Prizes at the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, the highly prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, Lincoln Center's Hunt Family Award, the grand prize at the Fischoff Competition, and special prizes at the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. Their recording of this work can be found on the recorded compilation: "Mozart & The Contemporaries ," 2011 (CRS CD1191) ©2011 CRS Artists
https://www.discogs.com/The-Old-City-String-Quartet-John-Russo-Mozart-The-Contemporary/release/8666307

Blues Suite for Violoncello Solo

This work was inspired by the great unaccompanied cello suites of J.S. Bach -- works that have inspired me deeply.

Kristin Ostling , cellist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, recorded this work and premiered it in Baltimore on May 29, 2009. She graciously allowed me to choose the program. And so I was able to hear her masterful performance of Bach's first suite for Violoncello Solo as well as Brahms' Sonata for Violoncello and Piano in e minor, with the talented Myriam Avalos on piano-- two of my favorite pieces of music! What a wonderful evening.

I composed this work in five brief movements, each of which was to present and develop a different aspect of blues music. Bach's suites were in my mind the entire time.

  • Blues Suite for Violoncello Solo / Kristin Ostling

    Conceived in five movements, this blues-inspired piece is a homage to J.S.Bach and his immortal cello suites -- ever an inspiration.
  • Premiere of Blues Suite for Solo Violoncello

    I was thrilled to be asked by both Kristin and Myriam to choose the program. And so,that night I got to hear a favorite Bach cello suite, a Bartok duo, and one of my very favorite Brahms works: his cello and piano sonata in e minor! The performances were so inspired that it overshadowed how small i felt in my music among the truest of masters. It was a wonderful--unforgettable--evening!
  • Blue Mirror / for Solo Guitar

    This is my first work for guitar. It is another synthesis of my atonal voice, and original blues. It is ironic perhaps that I have been playing guitar for over fifty years and—besides some early blues instrumentals written and notated clumsily before I could read music, and some songs for which the guitar was mostly accompaniment -- I never really composed for the guitar. I am beginning to come to terms with my instrument in an entirely new way.
  • "Blue Mirror" performance notes p.1

    This is page one of the detailed performance notes
  • "Blue Mirror" performance notes, page 2

    performance notes page 2
  • "Blue Mirror" performance notes , p.3

    performance notes / page 3

String Quartet #1: The Blues ; lecture/ performance

This is my most-performed work. At least five string quartets have performed it both here in the USA and abroad. It had its premiere as part of the Smithsonian Institution Chamber Music Series, the fine Axelrod String Quartet receiving standing ovations at the conclusion of both performances that weekend. It has been peformed in Sweden multiple times, and featured on local television in Baltimore. The present performance was part of a program held at Harold Washington Library in Chicago during the same weekend that my "Three Songs for Bluesman and Orchestra" -- a work commissioned by the Chicago Sinfonietta--was premiered at Dominican College and repeated the next evening at Symphony Center, home of the Chicago Symphony.

"Speaking of The Blues," a program held at Chicago's Harold Washington Library on May 9, 2008, featured composer Larry Hoffman and his work, "String Quartet #1: The Blues," as performed by the New Millennium Orchestra String Quartet : Elizabeth Choi, first violin; Blagomira Lipari, second violin; Dominic Johnson (leader), viola; and Eric Schaeffer, violoncello.

I was interviewed by--and discussed various aspects of the blues with host Barry Dolins, series founder, blues aficionado, and Chicago's Deputy Director at the Mayor's Office Of Special Events.

This video is presented courtesy of the Music Division of the Chicago Public Library: Christopher Popa, Executive Producer of video; and Director, Music Information Center, Chicago Public Library.

Digital / audio transfer by Ed Tetreault, manager of The Peabody Conservatory Department of Recording Arts & Sciences.

Music Division Of The Chicago Public Library
Composer / Speaker: Larry Hoffman
Host / Speaker: Barry Dolins
Musicians: New Millennium Orchestra String Quartet
Violin I: Elizabeth Choi
Violin 2: Blagomira Lipari
Viola (leader): Dominic Johnson
Violoncello: Eric Schaeffer
Music Information Director: Christopher Popa
Digital Transfer: Ed Tetreault
Eighteen Hammers by Johhny Lee Moore ©Atlantic/Rhino runs over beginning credits.

  • String Quartet #1: The Blues Larry Hoffman

    “Speaking of The Blues,” a program held at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library on May 9, 2008, featured composer Larry Hoffman and his work, “String Quartet #1: The Blues.” Hoffman is interviewed by--and discusses various aspects of the blues with — host Barry Dolins, series founder, blues aficionado, and Chicago’s former Deputy Director at the Mayor’s Office Of Special Events. The piece is performed by the New Millennium Orchestra String Quartet : Elizabeth Choi, first violin; Blagomira Lipari, second violin; Dominic Johnson (leader), viola; and Eric Schaeffer, violoncello.
  • Works of Larry Hoffman

    String Quartet No.1 can also be heard on my CD "Works of Larry Hoffman" as performed by the fine Atlantic String Quartet (of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra). They have performed the work often, and do a fine job on this recording. In fact, this ensemble was the very first to have played this work!
  • String Quartet No.1 World Premiere .jpg

    My first string quartet was premiered by the Axelrod Quartet as part of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Series. It received a standing ovation both nights! What a treat... Thank you, Axelrod Quartet!
  • Weber Quartet Stockholm, Sweden.png

    The Weber String Quartet heard about the piece and performed it in Stockholm a number of times.
  • String Quartet No.1: CHICAGO.png

    String Quartet No. 1 was performed as part of Chicago's "Classical Monday" series. The group was put together by violist Dominic Johnson, and included Jeff Yang, violin1; Matt Albert, violin 2; and Nicholas Photinos, cello. Thanks to Matt and Nicholas of "Eighth Blackbird".
  • String Quartet No. 1 : The Atlantic String Quartet.png

    This was the Baltimore premiere of "String Quartet No.1: The Blues" featuring the Atlantic String Quartet, made up of artists from the Baltimore Symphony. It got some press in the Baltimore Sun, and there was sure to be a crowd as it is my hometown, and I had been teaching and playing there for years, so I kind of expected it. I will never forget this day. It was the last day of March, and it snowed like crazy! A wild snowstorm and the hall was packed! This is the quartet who recorded the piece on my CD.
  • String Quartet #1: The Blues / Atlantic String Quartet

    The Baltimore premiere of String Quartet No.1: The Blues was performed by the Atlantic String Quartet. It is this performance that is found on my CD "Works of Larry Hoffman: Contemporary American Music."
  • STRING QUARTET NO 1 Sun.png

    The Baltimore Sun covered the Baltimore premiere of my "String Quartet No.1"

Of Seabirds, Palms, and Waves

Of Seabirds, Palms, and Waves is intended as a "musical painting" of my experience while standing in the sand of South Padre, a deserted island off the coast of Texas - there under the spell of interacting birds, oncoming tide, wind, and waves ... all creating an intriguing counterpoint to the rhythm and meter of the swaying palms.

That is the source of this piece.

The work morphs over and over again from a musical stillness to a fantasia / development, exploiting elements of contrapuntal, timbral, and rhythmic design-- each relating and returning to the original "painting," as in a rondo.

At the musical core of the piece is what I discovered, watching closely the rhythmic motion of the birds, as they moved in an unbroken and continuous pattern. The movements were rhythmically uniformed --although they varied in tempo. This pattern became increasingly more complex as the number of birds increased, and the tempi disparity became more and more pronounced.

Their movements, however, broke into two clear patterns:

1) groups of six steps followed by

2) a smaller number of groups of four steps---always returning to the initial group of six.

Each group was punctuated by an accent on the next-to-last beat. The pattern became This was astonishingly regular -- no variance. The routine created a predictable, rhythmic pattern that I used as a base -- one that interacted contrapuntally with musical representations of the unpredictable parade of "musical winds and oncoming tide," as well as with the random calls of the various birds in flight. Indeed, this was music that needed to be notated and remembered.

  • Of Seabirds, Palms, and Waves

    On a trip to an island off of Texas, I spent some time at an isolated beach on a cloudy day. The birds, waves, and palms created a counterpoint that I could not resist. I had to try and capture it in a piece. It is rather long, because the wonderful effect did not come over me until I became part of the wonderful synergy. The birds were walking in two different patterns .. 6/4 and 5/4 -- always with the accent on the next to last beat.
  • The island of South Padre.jpg

    I was pleased and honored that the Convention and Visitors Bureau of South Padre Island responded to my work.
  • Island response.png

    I was happy to read the response of South Padre Island. They experience what I do!
  • Colors for Trumpet and Percussion

    This work was commissioned by Baltimore Symphony artists Andrew Balio, principal trumpet, and David DePeters, percussionist. They premiered this piece at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore,Maryland.
  • colors page 1.png

    "Colors" score: Page 1
  • COLORS.jpg

    "Colors" was commissioned by Andrew Balio and David DePeters, highly accomplished professional musicians in the Baltimore, MD area. It was a challenge to find a good balance between the trumpet and a selection of "the right" percussion instruments, but eventually it felt very comfortable, and I was happy with the result. I was honored to get the commission. What made it easy was the confidence I had in the advanced skills of these two instrumentalists.

Old Time Music : Woodwind Quintet No.3

This is my homage to "Old Time Music," or "Old -Timey Music" -- the genre of country music that pre-dated and informed bluegrass. "Old time music" is an American folk music that developed in concert with various folk dances, and is said to be the oldest form of North American traditional music other than that of the indigenous Native Americans. To quote Wikipedia, " the roots of old-time music are in the traditional musics of the British Isles (primarily Great Britain and Ireland)-- and Europe. African influences are notably found in instruments such as the banjo."

As a teenager I sought out and learned tunes from recordings of this music, played and sung by revivalist groups like The New Lost City Ramblers. I traced the origin of the songs to the older 78 recordings originally released in the twenties and thirties by great and colorfully-titled groups like "Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers."

I sang and played a lot of these tunes on guitar, banjo, and autoharp -- instruments that I taught myself to play. Harmonizing with my friends as we sat around our living rooms, or by the stream across from my parents' house, was a wonderful part of my musical teenage years.

Many years later, I wanted to give this music presence in a "classical format," using traditional compositional techniques to expand on themes, lend different colors, and create contrapuntal webbing and harmonic variance to expand on this wonderful traditional language-- all the while striving to keep close to its roots.

  • Woodwind Quintet #3: Old - Time Music

    This is my homage to Old-Time or Old-Timey music, the genre of country music that preceded and informed bluegrass. It had its day in the 1920s and 30's and is said to be the oldest form of indigenous American folk music, with the exception of Native American music. I spent many hours as a teenager playing this music with friends--and believe it should be represented in the repertoire of American serious concert music. Both movements reflect the American folk dances that evolved simultaneously with this genre of music.
  • Larry Hoffman : String Quartet No 4 : I. Dance II. Chill III. Get Funky

    I enjoy composing single-movement works, as they give me more room to develop ideas. The four-movent scheme is prevalent in the classic symphonies and string quartets ( I. Sonata -Allegro / II. Song form /III. Sherzo / IV. Rondo, Sonata-Allegro -or related) , but I am not sure that this convention is in any way mandatory in the twenty-first century :) In this case, I did want to try selecting and identifying specific moods with the three movements.