Rochberg-Rhapsody & Prayer (Live-twice)

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by

Working on the violin concerto with George Rochberg, Saarbrucken, March 2002. Photo: Chris Lyndon-Gee

Rochberg-Rhapsody & Prayer (Live)
Peter Sheppard Skaerved & Aaron Shorr
Live Performance Blair School of Music Vanderbilt University Nashville TN


Live Performance TRT Ankara Radio 11 8 2002

George Rochberg with Marius Sheppard Skaerved. Newton Sq. , PA, 2001

In 2002 – I was preparing to direct a concert with the wonderful Zagreb Soloists in the Lisinki Concert Hall, Zagreb. I had been discussing this with George Rochberg, and he suggested that I arrange the slow movement of his 6th Quartet , which itself is a transfiguration of Pachelbel Adagio. Here is the result, a recording of the concert.
George Rochberg (Arr. Peter Sheppard Skaerved)-Pachelbel Variations)

Zagreb Soloists  (Guest Director-Peter Sheppard Skaerved) Live-Lisinski Great Hall-Zagreb-11th May 2002

Rochberg remembered-July 2010
Five years ago this month, I was sitting with my coffee at breakfast in Berkeley, California. No one was up. The telephone rang, and after a short conversation, I put it down again. It was a call that I had expected. George had died. A couple of weeks earlier, he had called me to talk. It was the middle of the night, and he had timed his phone call to coincide with my nocturnal practice. This, however, was no ordinary phone call.

“Peter, I am planning on making a lot less noise in the world … it’s your turn now.” Telephone conversation with PSS June 2005

Five years on, and I think of that conversation every day. George believed that Music was a sacred trust, a flaming torch to be passed from generation to generation. And his music itself burns; these are fire-brand scores, which threaten, for the player, to morph from burning links to red-hot iron bars carried in the hand. Music was/is, for George, a ‘trial by fire’; in the heat of performance, base metals can be molten away, and molten gold be revealed.

Rehearsing Rochberg 3rd Quartet. Jack Lyons Hall, York. 29th June 2010

When the 3rd Quartet was revealed to the world, by the sublime Concord Quartet, at the beginning of the 1970’s, it was greeted with acclaim and disgust in equal measure. Rochberg’s great friend George Crumb, had just unveiled his ‘global’ response to the milieu of the end of the 60’s- Black Angels. Rochberg’s response was, just as much as Crumb’s, a complete musical world-through which the voices of the previous torch bearers could be heard, still singing- Beethoven, Pachelbel, Mahler, Brahms, Bartok, Schoenberg, and the natural world-this quartet begins and ands with a storm of bird song. George wrote to me that he believed in:

“erasing all walls and borders based on historicity and aesthetic purities and declaring an all-at-once world within which all that matters once again is craftsmanship of the ancient kind, taste of the kind Mozart, and Haydn possessed, judgement of the kind Bach and Beeth. [sic] and Brahms and Bartok applied to every major decision they made; ‘s far as I’m concerned it’s back to basics , nothing to hide behind, not even so called ‘talent’.” Letter to PSS, April 3rd 2001

We did not come to learn the Quartet until thirty years after it was written. George made his last trip across the Atlantic-and he sang. George is still singing, like the birds, like Bach, Beethoven, Bartok. It’s just our job to play, and to listen. More:

Working on the violin concerto with George Rochberg, Saarbrucken, March 2002. Photo: Chris Lyndon-Gee