Soliloquia no. 1 (2017)

Soliloquia no. 1 (2017)

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Soliloquia No. 1 (2017) Program Notes:

“For many days I had been debating within myself many and diverse things, seeking constantly, and with anxiety, to find out my real self, my best good, and the evil to be avoided, when suddenly one — I know not, but eagerly strive to know, whether it were my- self or another, within me or without — said to me…”

The Soliloquies of St. Augustine

Composed for pianist Thomas Stumpf, this is the first in a series of works to come that are inspired by the Soliloquies of St. Augustine. The work also takes inspiration from jazz pianist Bill Evans’ landmark album “Conversations with myself.” My interest in Augustine has little to do with religion or dogma, and more with seeking to understand how a very bright person dealt with the world around him changing drastically in the late 300’s as the Roman Empire was crumbling.  The above quote is what inspired the feeling of Soliloquia No. 1. There is a feeling of searching throughout the work and, much as in St. Augustine’s writing, the friction between faith and reason; a friction that creative artists confront daily. The work also takes inspiration from Augustine’s dialectic writing style in hisSoliloquies, which is at times gently probing, and at times harassing, and fiery.

Soliloquia No. 1 is dedicated to the composer & conductor Oliver Knussen.  Though I’d never met him, Knussen’s music has been tremendously inspiring to me. In the spring of 2018 I had planned on mailing a copy of Soliloquia No. 1 to Knussen accompanied with a letter that simply said, “thank you for the inspiration.”  However, I hesitated because I didn’t think that Soliloquia No. 1 was worth sharing with Knussen, so I decided to wait until after it had been premiered so I could revise it where needed.  Unexpectedly, in July of 2018, Knussen passed away.  So it was that a chance to say, “thank you”, was lost forever.  This world-premiere by Thomas Stumpf is dedicated to Oliver Knussen whose music continues to fascinate and inspire me.

Kareem Roustom (October 2, 2018)

© 2018 Layali Music Publishing, BMI