A Duet for Piano and Viola

Jos. A. Baran


For the summer of 1971 I agreed to babysit a spinet for my theory/composition/piano instructor who was going home to visit her family in California. I dated her sister, a violist. With the piano at my disposal I promised to compose a piece for the two sisters. To say the least I never finished the project. So, some 43 years later I finally got around to it; better late than never, huh?

Not knowing where to begin, I decided to listen to the selections that my instructor performed at a faculty recital. The composers were Mozart, Brahms, Granados and Bartok. Mozart and Bartok got more of my attention. Listen for the influences. (There’s also a little Sinatra and John Lennon lurking about.)

I consider this a duet because the piano has a little more to do than just accompany. The piece follows the European Symphonic Sonata format I’ve been following in the past. Exposition One is in Bb Maj to Eb Maj to Bb Maj. Exposition Two transitions through major keys F – Bb – C – F – Bb – F. The Development is in Bb Major then G Major. The Recapitulation begins in Bb, transitions to Eb then modulates to Db. (Although the key change is a step lower it gives the impression of moving upward.) And the Coda ends in Bb where we began.


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