Donald Erb – Concerto for Solo Percussionist (1966)

Concerto for Solo Percussionist (1966)

Marvin Dahlgren, percussion

Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Donald Johanos

This work had its initial performance with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Sixten Ehrling, December 29, 1966. The work was completed in August of the same year. At the time of its premiere, the composer supplied the following notes:

“The work is cast in the traditional concerto format of three movements. The solo part is in the eighteenth and nineteenth century virtuoso tradition. The cadenzas in the second and, especially, the third movements harken back to the eighteenth century tradition of having the performer improvise much or all of the cadenza. A variation on this idea was used in the first movement, where instead of having the soloist improvise a cadenza I had the entire orchestra, other than the soloist, improvise it. The orchestra does function in this piece in much more than its traditional role of accompaniment. The individual orchestra parts are, in places, virtuoso passages in their own right.

Every age has produced its great virtuosi. In past eras, we have had great violinists and piano virtuosi. In our time, a new and, I think, peculiarly American virtuoso, the percussionist, has made an appearance. We live in an age of great percussion players, and it is only fitting that virtuoso pieces should be written for them.”

Art by Robert Bechtle

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