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Tom Johnson: Rational Melodies

  • Fleisher Art Memorial 719 Catharine Street Philadelphia, PA, 19147 United States (map)

The American composer Tom Johnson (b. 1939) has made a career of quite literally composing by numbers. Motivated by mathematical concepts such as self-similarity, transformations, and tiling patterns, Johnson's compositions are rigorously formalistic, but his use of repetition and familiar musical materials makes the underlying processes recognizable and (usually) enjoyable. The centerpiece of this concert is Johnson's 1982 work Rational Melodies, a set of 21 short pieces each consisting of a single melodic part generated by more or less complicated mathematical procedures, creating perceptual patterns that both challenge and enchant the ears. 


Johnson: Counting Keys (1982-89)
David Hughes, piano

Johnson: Rational Melodies (1982)
Tessa Ellis, trumpet
Joe Dvorak, clarinet
RJ McGhee, trombone
David Middleton, bass guitar
Dominic Panunto, bassoon

Johnson: Block Design for Piano (2005)
David Hughes, piano

Earlier Event: February 24
Morton Feldman: Rare Solos
Later Event: June 8
Music of James Tenney