Of summers past, or passing

Of summers past, or passing was composed in early 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. The first movement, Caprice, was commissioned by retired Memphis Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist James Gholson. The music for Caprice is often playful and care-free, with lively syncopated interplay between the instruments. Following the premiere of Caprice in Memphis by Gholson and my mother, pianist Katrine Aho, I was inspired to compose two additional movements.

Kathleen Costello

Kathleen Costello

The second movement, Dreams, unfolds as a series of related episodes, much as one might experience while sleeping. It opens with lyrical, contemplative music in the solo clarinet. This music then expands and develops over a piano accompaniment derived from the clarinet’s opening motive. A transitional period brings the music to three sections of faster music. The first of these, marked Allegro giocoso, brings back the kind of jazz-like interplay found in Caprice. The section which follows reveals ostinato and percussion-like figures in the piano which support the clarinet’s recollection of the lyrical, opening motive. The third of these sections (più mosso) is carried along by rhythms found in popular music as the clarinet sails and freely sings above the piano, finally returning to the opening, lyrical music to bring Dreams to an intimate close.

The title of the last movement, The Morning Star, is the title in translation of a poem by the Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889). This poem tells of the impossible, unrequited love between the morning star and a princess. The morning star falls in love with the princess and she returns the star’s desire. The princess implores the star to join her on Earth and the star wishes to leave the cold and lonely dark of space, but before the star leaves the heavens, the princess falls in love with a mortal suitor. In the end, the morning star remains immortal in space, consigned to watch the lovers on the Earth below.

The world premiere of the complete version of this composition was given by Kathleen Costello (clarinet) and Rob Frankenberry (piano) in Bellefield Hall Auditorium on 20 March 2016 in Pittsburgh. These performers then recorded this work
for inclusion on my 2020 CD, by moonlight.

clarinet, piano
Date completed:

3. The Morning Star

Featured Recording

by moonlight

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