Everything Must Go!


Everything Must Go!


for brass quintet (1992)

  • Premiere: 15 September 1992  / Bryant Park, New York City  / Brass Ensemble of the Orchestra of St. Luke's
  • Instrumentation: tpt.tpt.hn.trbn.tba 
  • Duration: 14'
  • Dedication: "Commissioned by the Encore Brass Quintet, New York City, 1992."
  • All orders are digital downloads. To order paper scores please visit our partner distributor, Theodore Front.

Program Note

Composed for the Encore Brass Quintet, a short-lived ensemble based in New York City, Everything Must Go! was composed at Yaddo, and completed on 21 June 1992. Hagen writes, "Everything Must Go! was originally premiered by the brass section of the Orchestra of Saint Luke's in New York. The title referred to the fact that I hoped to create a piece devoid of sentiment, entirely process-oriented, so-called "pure music" -- whatever that is. I also meant it to refer to my feelings, from which I felt increasingly remote."

Of his process, Hagen writes, "I ‘assembled' the quintet rather than ‘composed' it by writing four ideas (a D-A-B flat motive, a rhythmic cell / groove, a skein of sixteenth notes, and a quartal-harmony chorale) on flash cards. I sat at a table, shuffled the cards, and dealt them in different patterns before me. I then notated the results. This injected aleatoric compositional procedures into an already ‘non-expressive mechanical process." In addition to the organization via four notecards, the entire piece is based on a favorite synthetic scale of Hagen's: A-Bb-C#-D-Eb-F#-G. Not unintentionally, the quintet, modernist and unrelenting, is a serious test of the players' stamina. 

The first professional performance took place on 15 September 1992 in Bryant Park, New York City. The Brass Ensemble of the Orchestra of St. Luke's performed. Performances at the Aspen Music Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, the Curtis Institute, The Chicago Conservatory of Music, and the Spoleto Festival soon followed. 

The piece is notable for serving first as the musical basis for a version for large mixed ensemble entitled An Overture to Vera (premiered by the ensemble Present Music, in Milwaukee), and then as the thematic "source code" for the opera Vera of Las Vegas.

(Banner photo: stock image.)

The four notecards.

Click on the image to enlarge it.