The Fuga a quattro voci was composed by 22 April 1976, not long before my relocation from Miami, Florida, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I enrolled at Harvard as a graduate student in music in the fall of the same year. Originally conceived as a solo keyboard work, it was readily apparent that this big fugue could not be comfortably performed by a single player, and that more work would be necessary before it reached its final form. Nevertheless, I shelved the piece and essentially forgot about it until I began revisiting and revising many of my earliest sketches in the fall of 2001.

My aesthetic criteria had not changed in that quarter-century: every voice had to be individually convincing as well as polyphonically compatible with every other voice, a difficult challenge requiring minute checking and rechecking. Parallel fifths and octaves were generally avoided, although some combinations of uneven parallel fifths were deemed desirable and consequently retained. Unlike the Fuga a tre voci that was composed just weeks before it, the musical style of this hundred-measure fugue is a hybrid of baroque and romantic stylistic elements, although the former clearly dominate. The fugal subject itself is unusual, as it gradually abandons its initial modal character and anchors itself firmly in the tonality of g minor. After several grueling days of editing and refining this seemingly intractable early work, which required transposition, addition of a brief coda, and arrangement of original and new material for two instruments, I believe I finally met with success: the "Quattro" has at long last seen the light of day!

Last updated October 8, 2003
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