Fred Lerdahl

The Music and Writings of Composer Fred Lerdahl

Program note for Time and Again


Time and Again (2014) was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. It is my third piece to be honored with a premiere by the SPCO, the first two being Waves in 1989 and Spirals in 2007. Its instrumentation, like that of a typical Beethoven symphony, is for double woodwinds, two horns and two trumpets, tympani, and strings. When writing for orchestra, I prefer the transparency of the Classical ensemble to the extravagant forces of the late Romantic period.

Time and Again is in one movement lasting about 16 minutes. Its title reflects my preoccupation with musical time—pushing it forward, disrupting it, moving it in multiple speeds simultaneously, and bringing it to closure. Above all, the title refers to my proclivity to circle back through musical material in increasingly complex ways, so that time both repeats and accumulates. Time and Again passes through three such cycles, each comprised of musical ideas that seem heterogeneous but possess underlying similarities.

Time and Again has a twin, the violin-cello duo Give and Take. 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