Four Poems
for string quartet with percussion


I chose the title "Four Poems" for this piece because each movement is a short composition based on a single poetic image. Unlike traditional tone poems, which are based on literary works or stories, these pieces do not represent specific events or actions. Instead, they should be thought of as being abstract poems themselves. I therefore hope that these wordless musical poems will inspire personal imagery in the minds of each listener.

Specific images did serve as inspiration for these pieces, but similar to the images of poetry, they can inspire different meanings for different people. For that reason, and with the hope that audience members might create some of their own meanings, I won't be too specific with descriptions. A short description of each poem's central image is listed below:

A Frozen Light

This is a bright star on a cold clear night. Depending on the viewer's state of mind, it could represent unity and hope or isolation and despair.

Brutal Forces

It seems that the world is full of such forces, some of them are created by people, others borne by nature.

Silent Crescendo

Musically, of course, a silent crescendo is impossible. Intellectually and philosophically, however, it could represent a building of confidence, the emergence of ideas, or the coming together of like-minded people.

Vaulted Voids

Remains of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine in Rome served as inspiration for this piece. Like many monuments to past greatness, it has the effect of stirring strong and conflicting emotions within me.

(performance duration ca. 18 minutes)

Required Percussion Instruments



4 tom-toms
(graduated size ca. 8"-12")