Composition: Fugue in e minor

Fugue in e minor (four voices); Kenneth Michael Shultz, Composer

Fugue in e minor (three voices); Kenneth Michael Shultz, Composer (click for full size)

James Wiznerowicz, D.M.A., is undoubtedly Richmond’s most sublime and transcendent composer.  He has studied under the distinguished contemporary composers Anthony Iannaccone (understudy to Aaron Copland), Ladislav Kiubik and Daniel Asia (understudy to Arthur Weisberg).  Wiznerowicz’s “Aria for Solo Bassoon” and “Micrologus for Solo Flute” were featured on NPR’s “Theme and Variations,” and his music is performed throughout Australia, Europe and North America.

For me, the most important fact about this man is that he is a masterfully powerful teacher.  I was lucky enough to study composition under Dr. Wiznerowicz; every moment was engaging and enlightening.  The strange black and white picture above is a copy of a Baroque-style fugue that I composed under his pedagogy.

The theme is the heart of the fugue.   Shown below, the theme begins in the soprano.  It lasts three full measures before the alto picks it up in the up beat of third measure.  Notice the c# at the end of the soprano line which guides the listener into b minor.

Fugue in e minor (four voices); Kenneth Michael Shultz, Composer

Theme

When the three voices are all playing, the listener finds themselves enriched in colorful polyphony.   The fugue then continues into a transitional circle progression which is
shown below.    Notice that the pattern repeats every three quarter notes which implies a subtle 3-2 poly rhythm.

Fugue in e minor (four voices); Kenneth Michael Shultz, Composer

Transitional Circle Progression

The theme begins again on the upbeat at the end of the transition. The listener finds themselves delighted to be listening to G major (major III); however, this moment is fleeting as the fugue quickly begins its modulation toward the dominant complex. Shown below is the final theme entry (featured in the bass) before the dominant complex.  The theme begins on the upbeat before the first full measure shown. A series of colorful harmonies – led rhythmically by a motif borrowed from the theme – bring the listener to a resonant dominant b pedal tone.

Fugue in e minor (four voices); Kenneth Michael Shultz, Composer

Final Entry Before Dominant Complex

The music concludes with the theme in the tonic key, surrounded by characteristic truncated entries.   The complexity builds in a burst, then fades in a exhale as the rhythms slow down into a beautiful codetta, ending finally with a IV-I cadence.

This piece would have been a desultory wreck if it weren’t for my great mentor.  With Dr. Wiznerowicz’s pragmatism and guidance, I was able to create a complete and colorful work of music.

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