Prayer for Peace

Curtis_Institute_of_Music_-_IMG_7522.JPG
Curtis_Institute_of_Music_-_IMG_7522.JPG

Prayer for Peace

24.50

for string orchestra (1983)

Add To Cart
Hagen and his mother the day before her death.

Hagen and his mother the day before her death.

First few bars of the original sketch.

(Banner image: Curtis Hall, the Curtis Institute of Music)

  • Premiere: 18 January 1983  / The Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  / The Philadelphia Orchestra / William Smith
  • Instrumentation: string orchestra
  • Duration: 20'
  • All orders are digital downloads. To order paper music, visit our distributor partner, Theodore Front.

Program Note

William Smith, Associate Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, attended a student concert at the Curtis Institute of Music on 20 April 1982 and heard the premiere there of a new work for string orchestra, conducted by its young composer, Daron Aric Hagen.

After the concert, he asked Hagen for a copy of the score. Hagen gave him the score he had just used to lead the work. One can only imagine the young composer's excitement. The ensuing premiere, by Smith and the Philadelphia Orchestra, took place on 18 January 1983 at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, the first premiere of a student work by that orchestra since their debut of the work of Samuel Barber, exactly fifty years earlier.

Prayer for Peace was composed during autumn 1981 while Hagen was studying with Ned Rorem. Hagen kept to himself the fact that his mother was dying of an aggressive form of lung cancer, expressing his feelings instead in the three movement "opus 1" he was composing. Hagen's mother died in is arms in December 1982. Smith premiered the piece a few weeks later. It begins in suffering and ends in consolation. The extended coda is, according to the composer, "sort of a musical Pietà for the solo violin and cello. The solo violin represents my mother, and the solo cello represents me."

Philadelphia Inquirer music writer Daniel Webster, describing the work, wrote, "The piece has, in its three movements, a theatrical flow from the jagged opening, through several short scenes for solo violin and cello, to a gradual lengthening of melodic lines to the strongly flowing final prayer. The progress from emotional pitch to pitch is direct and unhurried. The solo instruments take roles that are songful. In the second movement, the two sing independently but in close dialogue over the others. The resolution of the prayer itself, with the cello playing against a shimmer of high violins, is a deft stroke that gives it all a satisfying close."

Reviews

Hagen was praised by conductor William Smith as 'a fountain' of creativity. Smith noted that as a student he had heard the music of Samuel Barber played at a student concert, and he acknowledged that new student works have not come along since. Hagen's Prayer for Peace for string orchestra, while it could only represent the large quantity of work Hagen has in his catalogue, was a welcome glimpse into his work's quality. The writing is concise, mature in the way the composer assembled colors and accents and, best of all, often led my ear to believe the next part of the score was inevitable. The piece has, in its three movements, a theatrical flow from the jagged opening, through several short scenes for solo violin and cello, to a gradual lengthening of melodic lines to the strongly flowing final prayer.

The progress from emotional pitch to pitch is direct and unhurried. The solo instruments take roles that are songful -- the best being the violin and cello duet in the second movement. In that section, the two sang independently but in close dialogue over the others. The resolution of the prayer itself, with the cello playing against a shimmer of high violins, is a deft stroke that gives it all a satisfying close.

— Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inqurier, 1/19/83