Fred Lerdahl

The Music and Writings of Composer Fred Lerdahl

Program note for Time after Time 


I composed Time after Time in 2000 for the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society and Collage. The Washington Square group gave the premiere in 2000 in New York City, conducted by Paul Hostetter. The piece is in two movements and lasts approximately 19 minutes. The instrumentation, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano, is the same as that of an earlier piece, Fantasy Etudes, in which sub-groupings of instruments interact in dialectical opposition. This time I sought a more homogeneous treatment so that the bright sound of the total ensemble refracts in constantly shifting colors. 

Both movements employ a spiral form in which a simple, stable musical idea proliferates, becoming longer and more complex with each cycle. As an idea expands, new ideas emerge out of it. Unity becomes multiplicity. This process is unbroken in the fast and often explosive first movement. In the more reflective second movement, the process unfolds in two streams: the piano generates a serene but inexorable eighth-note pattern, supported at times by the percussion, while the flute, clarinet, violin, and cello interject increasingly agitated gestures. The streams converge as the music sweeps downward in ever more powerful climactic curves. A short coda recollects in tranquility thematic fragments from both movements.

Fred Lerdahl


all materials copyright Fred Lerdahl 2009