solo viola, flute, clarinet, celesta, percussion, violin and cello

The viola in my life (composed specially for Karen Phillips) was begun in Honolulu in July, 1970, and consists of individual compositions utilizing various instrumental combinations (small and large) with viola. The compositional format is quite simple. Unlike most of my music, the complete cycle of The viola in my life is conventionally notated as regards pitches and tempo. I needed the exact time proportion underlying the gradual and slight crescendo characteristic of all the muted sounds the viola plays. It was this aspect that determined the rhythmic sequence of events. Since 1958 (not unlike an aspect of minimal painting) the surface of my music was quite “flat”. The viola’s crescendos are a return to a preoccupation with a musical perspective which is not determined by an interaction of corresponding musical ideas—but rather like a bird trying to soar in a confined landscape.

What is difficult to convey is the absence of formal ideas on what appears to be a more or less “conventional” sounding composition. The recurrent melody serves no structural function. It comes back more as a “memory” than as something that moves the work along. Situations repeat themselves with subtle changes rather than developing. A stasis develops between expectance and its realization. As in a dream, there is no release until we wake up, and not because the dream has ended.