Fred Lerdahl

The Music and Writings of Composer Fred Lerdahl

Program note for There and Back Again 


There and Back Again (2010), a four-minute work for solo cello, was composed as a surprise present for the extraordinary cellist Anssi Karttunen in honor of his 50th birthday. The composers invited to participate were asked to base their contributions on a 17th-century cello piece, Chiacona by Giuseppe Colombi. 

My piece follows Colombi’s four-bar chaconne form faithfully but with a twist: its pitch material takes a journey through three and a half centuries and back. The piece begins with bare octaves and elaborates the chaconne pattern until Colombi’s original melody arrives in the fourth variation. The material becomes increasingly chromatic, alluding to 19th- and 20th-century usages, until it reaches 12-tone and finally microtonal variations. The reversal is comparatively short, leading to a climactic statement of Colombi’s tune before subsiding to the opening octaves.

Fred Lerdahl


all materials copyright Fred Lerdahl 2009