Elliott Schwartz ‘Jefferson – Soliloquy and Remembrance’ (August 2011 Premiere & November 2011 Film))

Posted on September 21st, 2011 by

Elliott Schwartz-Jefferson Cadenza-Soliloquy and Remembrance

Violin-Peter Sheppard Skaerved
Filmed by Colin Still (Optic Nerve)
in Peter Sheppard Skaerved’s ‘Only Connnect’ exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery 

November 2011


From Elliot Schwartz: The piece is a two-movement work for solo violin, called “Jefferson Cadenza: Soliloquy and Remembrance,” and it was completed this summer. It’s intended to do double-duty: (1) to function as the cadenzas for my Chamber Concerto VI, one for the 2nd movement & one for the 4th, and to stand alone as a recital piece for solo violin.
Peter Sheppard Skaerved premiered it at the Blair School of Music (Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN) September 18th. And he’ll be performing it again at the National Portrait Gallery, London, as part of his “Only Connect” series. The concerts in this series are held in different gallery rooms, with the pieces related to portraits on the wall. My Jefferson piece is connected to the portrait of Mariah Cosway, who was Thomas Jefferson’s love during his tenure as ambassador in Paris. (Really, I’m not making this up!)

Monday September 19th Ingram Stage, Blair School of Music

Elliott Schwartz ‘Jefferson – Soliloquy and Remembrance’ (August 2011)

Live recording-Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin (Stradivari 1698)



With composer Elliott Schwartz, his wife, artist Deedee Schwartz, and writer Malene Skaerved. Portland, Maine-August 2011. Breakfast, and plotting more developments for our Jefferson/Cosway project




Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was a lifelong musical enthusiast. He was a keen violinist, and notated his copy of Francesco Geminiani’s The Art of playing on the violin (1751) with quotations from Jean-Jacques Rousseau His large collection of music including the works of the greatest composers of his day, CPE Bach, Handel, Mozart and Haydn., whose music he had heard at Les Concerts Spirituels after his arrival in Paris in 1784.

Later, he made a point of commissioning British instrument makers, such as the harpsichord maker Kirckman, and corresponded enthusiastically with with like-minded enthusiasts, such as Charles Burney. Jefferson owned a number of Burney’s works on music, and later became a friend of Burney, who supervised the building of his daughter Patsy’s harpsichord.

1801: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

Perhaps his vision, of ‘Peace, Commerce and honest Friendship’ was partially modelled on his experiences of collective ebb and flow of chamber music, of which he was an ardent devotee, and which was the centre of daily life at his idealised home, Monticello.

In 1785, he explained his passion for the arts to James Madison:

‘You see that I am an enthusiast on the subject of the arts. But it is an enthusiasm of which I am not ashamed, as its object is to improve the taste of my countrymen, to increase their reputation, to reconcile to them the respect of the world and procure them its praise.’ to James Madison, September 201785

One might say that the only hierarchy that he was willing to accept was that based on the notion of talent essnential to artistic ability, as he explained to John Adams.

‘I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.’

During his time in Paris, Jefferson was introduced to Maria and Riachard Cosway by the artist John Trumbull. He and Maria formed a passionate attachement., centred on their music-making together. Helen Cripe, in her pioneering work on Jefferson, the musician, wrote:

‘Shortly before Maria left Paris in October 1786, Jefferson sent her a copy of ‘Jour Heureux’, a favourite air from Sacchini’s opera, Dardnaus….it is possible that they saw the opera in Paris on 3rd October pf that year. “I send you the song I promised-bring me in return its subject, Jours heureux!’ Two months later Maria sent him the book of Italian songs for voice and harp that she had composed.’

Engraving of Geminiani by Lambert, 2005.2022, Foyle Menuhin

Thomas Jefferson and Music, Helen Cripe, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1974, P.10

The Age of Napoleon, J.Christopher Herold, American Heritage Publishing Co., New York, 1983, P.307

Thomas Jefferson and Music, Helen Cripe, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1974, P.10

The papers of Thomas Jefferson, 17 Volumes, Princeton University Press, 1950, VIIIm P.535,

Letter to John Adams 28th October 1813, in PL Ford The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P.425

Thomas Jefferson and Music, Helen Cripe, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1974,Pp.21-2

Thomas Jefferson and Music, Helen Cripe, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1974,P.79