Doug Opel


3 Preludes to Missing the Point

for piano

Written: 2006
Duration: 8:00
Instrumentation: piano
Commissioned By: Nicola Melville

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Program Notes

3 preludes to missing the point is my contribution to an ambitious project formed by pianist Nicola Melville in 2006. Nikki commissioned thirteen American composers to collaborate with her on a series of short piano works. Her primary criterion was that each effort should be clearly written in/reminiscent of a popular American style(s). In that spirit, I created three short character pieces: 1) It Gets Complicated, a funk style couched in a concentrated theme&variations; 2) Gospel, a pastiche of improvisational keyboard styles reminiscent of blues, southern gospel, ragtime and boogie woogie and; 3) Eine Kinda Bachmusik, pt.2, a dark and smoky jazz study based on portions of J.S. Bach’s Fugue no. 22 in B-flat minor, BWV867 from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I.

The title comes from the novel, Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth, in which the main character - Mickey Sabbath - contemplates the notion of a ruined life. He observes that an unaccountable exaggeration of significance often occurs when the ruined life in question is one’s own, and that ironically, such exaggerations become a “prelude to missing the point”. These 5 words  grabbed me in turn, by how easily their own significance could be elevated - in one moment, a simple act of self-evaluation and in another, commentary on the fight for a unified sense of spirituality, patriotism and humanity here in the United States and in other countries around the world. At heart, the title is a play on words (simultaneously musical and portentous) that more importantly associated these pieces with the times in which they were written.

3 preludes to missing the point was Underwritten by the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.