Fred Lerdahl

The Music and Writings of Composer Fred Lerdahl

Program note for Give and Take


I composed the violin-cello duo Give and Take in the summer of 2014 for the Musica Nova Helsinki 2015 Festival. Dedicated to Anssi Karttunen, cellist and artistic director of the Festival, it is in one movement lasting about 15 minutes. This is the third work I have written for Mr. Karttunen, the first two being There and Back Again for solo cello and Arches for cello and chamber orchestra.

The title Give and Take evokes the responsive and varied interaction of the violin and cello throughout the piece. They are in an intense conversation, sometimes echoing and elaborating one another, other times each going its own way in its own tempo, still other times one breaking off with a change in direction that is soon followed by the other. To achieve this flexibility, I built a form in three cycles, each made up of musical ideas that seem heterogeneous but possess underlying similarities. The second and third cycles freely and progressively expand the material of the first.

Give and Take has a twin, Time and Again for chamber orchestra. The two works were composed at the same time and cover the same musical course despite contrasting sound worlds and textures. One piece is the ink drawing, the other the oil painting.

Fred Lerdahl


all materials copyright Fred Lerdahl 2009