Stardust for solo E-flat Clarinet, commissioned by clarinetist Elizabeth Crawford in 2014, explores the lyrical and jazzy abilities of this instrument, turning to popular songs of the 20’s and 30’s as inspiration. I grew up playing and singing much of this repertoire at the piano, learning a lot about writing melody from this incredible era of songwriting. Each movement of this work plays with these popular themes, sometimes using an interval, a few notes, or a line from within the work as inspiration, allowing the E-Flat clarinet to shine by playing with range, color, and extended techniques. I also liked the idea of linking pieces together that spoke of stars and the moon – a popular theme of this era!
- A Love of My Own – Inspired by “Blue Moon” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, 1934. The title comes from a line within the work, and the melodic material comes from the opening “Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone…”
- Into the Blue Sky – inspired by “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin, 1926. The smooth, flowing line in this movement comes from the opening melodic line of the song “Blue skies, smiling at me.” The movement flies higher and higher “into the blue sky” until we fly too close to the sun (like Icarus) and fall from great heights.
III. A Paper Moon – Inspired by “It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Harold Arlen, 1933. The opening of Arlen’s song begins with an octave leap, and this becomes a prominent motive throughout. The timbral trills create a shimmering light of the moon, and listen for direct snippets of Arlen’s song, from the descending lines, to the swing section in the middle of the piece.
- A Stardust Melody – Inspired by Hoagy Carmichael’s song Stardust, 1927, with lyrics added in 1929 by Mitchell Parish. Carmichael wrote this song while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington. The clarinet work explores the melodic line “Love is now the stardust of yesterday” in the opening, and mixes in swing-style rhythms as a homage to the works of this era.
It was an honor to write this piece for Elizabeth Crawford. She premiered the work during the Clarimania Festival in Wrocław, Poland in April 2015.
Stardust for solo E-flat clarinet now appears on the CD INSTANT WINNERS – Albany Records, recorded by Elizabeth Crawford.