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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. This is a “programmatic work,” intended to recreate my musical vision of the event, comprised of six movements.

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About Larry

Baltimore City

Larry Hoffman's picture
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" was my first attempt at infusing blues essence into a contemporary classical work. This mission to put blues on the serious concert music stage was a primary force leading me to composition; I was hoping that this "experiment" would be successful.

The performers who first championed this work are well-known to serious listeners and players of classical music. Oboist John Mack was dubbed "the dean of American oboists" by the New York Times. Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, who debuted at 18 as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, has won countless international awards; and cellist Bryan Dumm remains a highly respected cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. They honored me with both this recording and a special live performance in Cleveland, Ohio. Their performance can be found on my CD "Works of Larry Hoffman / Contemporary American Music.

Among the other subsequent performances of this work, were those presented in Washington, DC; Pittsburgh, PA; the Breckenridge Music Festival; and the Sante Fe Chamber Music Festival.

  • Blues for Harp, Oboe, and Violoncello (1986)

    "Blues for Harp, Oboe, and Violoncello" was my first attempt at infusing a contemporary classical work with blues essence. Putting the blues on the American serious concert music stage was a primary mission that originally drove me to composition. The performers who recorded this work were each stellar and well-known to serious listeners of classical music.
  • cd cover.png

    "Blues for Harp, Oboe, and Violoncello" can be found on my CD: "Works of Larry Hoffman: Contemporary American Music" (DBK 701)

Pages of Anna

This work is scored for Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, and Harp, and is in one movement. It is about the universal mystery, fantasy, expectation, longing, exultation, and disappointment that can in turn undermine, determine, and enrich our relationships. Anna is an Achetype-- a metaphor. It is found on my CD "Works of Larry Hoffman: Contemporary American Music"

Woodwind Quintet #3: Old-Time Music

Composed in 2015-16, this is my homage to "Old-Time Music," the country music (or "hillbilly music" as it was called) in the 1920's and 1930's. I spent many hours as a teenager playing and singing this music for and with friends--employing my arsenal of guitar, harmonica, autoharp, and banjo. This genre is closely linked to the folk dances of the period, which accounts for the titles of the two movements. I felt that the woodwind quintet --a favorite medium of mine--was a perfect one to bring out the exuberance and sweetness of this overlooked and wonderful American folk music.

  • 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.

Blues Suite for Violoncello Solo Kristin Ostling

This work was premiered by talented Baltimore Symphony cellist Kristin Ostling, who devoted herself to bringing out the depth she felt in this piece. She was brilliant. Her performance here was taken from my CD "Works of Larry Hoffman : Contemporary American Music" (DBK 701), and was singled out by more than a few reviewers who were moved by her performance.

The work is conceived in five brief movements, in homage to the immortal cello suites of J.S. Bach.

  • 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!
  • Blues Suite For Violoncello Solo

    "Blues Suite for Violoncello Solo" included in my CD "Works of Larry Hoffman: Contemporary American Music" (DBK 701)

String Quartet No. 3: Mo' Better Blues

This, my third string quartet, was completed in the summer of 2019. I love writing for this ensemble, and treasure the works of the masters who have made it great -- from Joseph Haydn through Elliott Carter, with special mention and homage to Bela Bartok, whose love of his native folk music permeated and was celebrated so thoroughly throughout his brilliant work.

I've always felt that the power of the blues, as grist for developmental music, was terribly neglected if not blatantly ignored by our American composers; and so I've committed myself if not wholly, then certainly in great part to an attempt at change in that direction. Jazz-- and I do love jazz!-- perhaps because of its cerebral antennae and veneer of sophistication, has been mined over and over again, to various amounts of success, and always finds respectability. Blues, on the other hand, in its purest aspect, seems to be treated now as despicably as it was at its inception in the early decades of the twentieth century --even by African Americans in the American South.

Colors for Trumpet and Percussion

Blue Mirror for Solo Guitar (2016)

This is my first work for guitar--a surprising realization in that guitar is my instrument! Perhaps that is why I've shied away from it. Being conversant with blues styles on the guitar, as a player, analyst, and historian, I have for the first time combined my original playing styles-- inspired by the authentic blues artists --with my atonal compositional voice. In this piece I went for the more integrated approach of both languages as opposed to the hard-line contrasts I employed in previous works.

The nuances of the blues are incredibly and wonderfuly complex and expressive, both from a rhythmic as well as a melodic aspect. Microtones of all stripes abound, shaded by glissandi both subtle and gross, while the rhythms -- sometimes erratic-- chug on. The harmonic patterns, usually stretching no further than the tonic-subdominant-dominant orbit, are somehow made fresh, as are the blues scales (primarily pentatonic) by their bent and shaken and sliding notes. Much of this is due to the highly personalized languages of the blues, remade anew by each of the authentic, creative artists who shaped and reshaped this great music over the decades.

The blues sections of this work are drawn from my original blues music, laced with -- and sometimes based on-- the authentic underpinnings of the traditional music.

There is no improvisation whatever! Each nuance is carefully notated. I had to invent certain techniques to bring about the "non-western" elements. But if followed carefully, the score will produce the authentic sound that is present in this performance.

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

String Quartet #1: The Blues ; lecture/ performance

This is my most-performed work. At least five string quartets have performed it publicly. It had its premiere as part of the Smithsonian Institution Chamber Music Series, and found other quartets around the country who also played it. It was peformed in Sweden more than once, 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.

Hoffman is interviewed by--and discusses 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!