Freddy's Dead

2004 listen

Freddy’s Dead is based on J. S. Bach’s theme from his Musikalisches Opfer.  It shares some of his construction methods too, composerly tricks like inversion, retrograde, retrograde inversion, etc.  These techniques were resurrected by the serialists, notably Schoenberg, upon whose death the fun-loving post-serialist Boulez remarked that “Schoenberg is dead”. 

Most of this piece is derived from the third movement of the Musical Offering’s Trio Sonata, which has been sped up several times, squeezed into downbeats (bass clef) or offbeats (treble), and otherwise mutilated, while at the same time a very slow version of the theme cycles alongside, with all intervals rising.  This pair of ideas—short notes fast and jumpy, long notes slow and steady—works its dogged way through the instruments, with a few brief respites, until it’s about time for a coda.

Freddy’s Deadwas written for Soundstreams, and is dedicated with affection and respect to its Artistic Director, Lawrence Cherney.


James Rolfe CA

Toronto composer James Rolfe has been commissioned and performed by soloists, ensembles, orchestras, choirs, theatres and opera companies in Canada and abroad. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the K. M. Hunter Music Award, and the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. The Canadian Opera Company, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company, Tapestry New Opera, and Toronto Masque Theatre have commissioned and produced his operas. Current projects include a new operatic version of Gogol's The Overcoat with writer Morris Panych, to be premiered in spring 2018 by Tapestry Opera, Canstage, and Vancouver Opera, and a new work for Soundstreams for June 2018.

James Rolfe