William Bolcom (American, 1938- ): Graceful Ghost Rag
I have something very special for you today...
Today's birthday composer William Bolcom has written in many genres, and his music incorporates many different styles, including 20th century classical, bluegrass, country, soul, folk vaudeville, rock, musical, and reggae. I mentioned in week one that my late teacher Sergiu Luca was involved in the commission and premiere of many new works for the violin, and Bolcom was a composer with whom he had a particularly long and close relationship. Bolcom wrote his violin concerto for Luca--it is on YouTube and Spotify and you should listen if you are interested. He also wrote music for violin and piano which the two of them performed together, but as far as I can tell the recording is out of print, so I got this file from a fellow Luca student who has it on LP. This is a rag Bolcom originally wrote for solo piano but arranged to include a violin part. I hope you like this short, sweet, and, as the title indicates, "graceful" little gem. I once saw Luca perform it at a memorial service, and it was perfect.
This illustration by Bolcom appears on the album cover, and also the cover of the sheet music for his second sonata. It shows him and Luca, which I find very funny, because by the time I met Luca he had white hair!
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!