Complete Work Title: 

Conversations (after Elias Canetti)

Performance Medium: 

variable (2-4 players), drawn from instruments included in the composer's Canetti character studies: piccolo, bass flute, ocarina, basset horn, alto saxophone, bass saxophone, contrabassoon, trumpet, percussion, glass harmonica, organ, piano, cimbalom, guitar, violin, violoncello, contrabass.


variable (c.3:00-7:00)

Date Composed: 

March 2018

Performance Information: 
  • Semi-improvisational open-form work for two to four instruments based on the composer's Character Studies after Elias Canetti.
  • May be performed independently or in conjunction with the Canetti solo studies.

Additional Information: 

The "score" consists of performance instructions; source material for improvisation may be found in the Character Studies after Elias Canetti.

Performance/Broadcast History: 
  • 23 October 2018; James Madison University Concert Hall (Harrisonburg, VA) — JMU Contemporary Music Festival [premiere]

    Josh Ballinger (contrabassoon), Laurel Black (percussion), Redi Llupa (piano), Sam Suggs (contrabass)

Program Notes: 

Conversations (after Elias Canetti) is a semi-improvisational open-form work for two to four performers, based on the composer's collection of solo works after character studies in Elias Canetti's 1974 book Der Ohrenzeuge (Earwitness). In Conversations, the performers improvise in various combinations, developing musical fragments from these solo studies, which are used as raw material for musical conversations — not unlike the interaction of distinct characters at a social gathering. Whereas the solo works in this collection explore the psychological qualities of the characters portrayed in Canetti's Der Ohrenzeuge, Conversations is more of a sociological study of these characters' interactions — very much in the spirit of another one of Canetti's writings, Masse und Macht (Crowds and Power), an idiosyncratic yet penetrating study of group dynamics and power structures within various societal constructs.

Conversations was composed in March 2018 and first performed on 23 October 2018 at the James Madison University Contemporary Music Festival.