Lonesome Road
(The Crawford Variations)
for piano solo
Larry Polansky

Martin Christ
solo pianist

world premiere performance by one pianist
house concert, hosted by Ed Carroll, Jackie Jacobus, Walter and Liz Sinnott- Armstrong

September 14, 1997
Hanover, New Hampshire

Section 1 (Variations I - XVII)
Section 2 (Variations XVIII - XXXV)
Section 3 (Variations XXXVI - LI)

(There will be a very short "stretch" break before sections 2 and 3.)

Lonesome Road (The Crawford Variations) is a set of variations on Ruth Crawford's harmonization of the folk song of the same name. Her arrangement was published in Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag (1927).

The work is in three sections of 17 variations each. The variations in the middle section (XVIII; XXXIV) are generally longer and more developed than those in the outer sections. In many cases, corresponding variations in the three sections are related, and have similar structures (Variation I is related to XVIII, which is related to XXXV). Sections 1 and 3 are each about 20 minutes long, section 2 about 40 minutes.

Lonesome Road (The Crawford Variations) was composed over the course of one year spent in Indonesia (June 1988; June 1989), where I assisted my wife Jody Diamond in her work with Indonesian experimental composers. Many of these composers' ideas somehow found their way into this work, but I can no longer remember how (except in the case of B. Subono, a Central Javanese composer after whom two of the variations were named).

The piece was revised during the years that followed in Oakland, California and Hanover, New Hampshire. I am grateful to Sarah Cahill for her assistance in the revision process. The work still exists only in pencil score, and Martin Christ's own performance edition. In summer/fall, 1997, Vermont pianist Michael Arnowitt created a Suite from the piece, consisting of about 16 variations, and helped supervise an edition of that version, prepared by David Fuqua.


The 51 Variations
Section 1
I. Opening
II. Little Black Dots
III. Chorale (I)
IV. After Subono (I)
V. Waltz (I)
VI. Unison/Octaves
VII. Chorale (II)
VIII. Genderan (for Marc Perlman)
IX. Unison
X. Waltz (II)
XI. Chorale (II)
XII. Chorale (III)
XIII. Chorale (IV)
XIVa.; XIVb.
XV. Very fast and loud
XVI. Chorale (VI)
XVII. "The Hensley Deviations"

Section 2
XVIII. Quietly, peacefully
XXIX. Cengkok and coda
XX. Song
XXI. Fast
XXII. Phantasy
XXIVa. Fast; XXIVb.
XXVa. Slowly; XXVb. Very legato
XXVI. Middle
XXVII. Melody and accompaniment
XXVIII. Rather fast
XXIX. Soft, slow, very rubato
XXX. Fast, swing
XXXI. Still fast, swing
XXXII. Faster
XXXIII. "The Independence Movement" (for David Rosenboom)
XXXIVa. Very lyrical XXXIVb.

Section 3
XXXV. Fast
XXXVI. Very slow, very quiet, very rubato
XXXVII. Ballad
XL. Slow and pretty
XLIV. Waltz (III)
XLVI. Legato, slow, soft, rubato
XLVII. Three keys waltz
XLVIII. After Subono (II)
L. Chorale (VI)
LI. Gently, freely
Lonesome Road (The Crawford Variations) was premiered by Thomas Bachli (Section 1), Urs Egli (Section 2), and Martin Christ (Section 3) at the Rote Fabrik in Zurich, Switzerland on March 20, 1994. The performance was recorded live by the Swiss Broadcasting Company and was sponsored by the Internationale Gesellschaft fur Neue Music Zurich, with Marino Pliakas, curator. These three pianists toured the work in North America in the Spring of 1995, sponsored by the Pro Helvetia Foundation and Bay Area Pianists, directed by pianist Sarah Cahill. The first U.S. performance was at Roulette.

Michael Arnowitt premiered the Suite from Lonasome Road (about 30 minutes long) on New Years Eve, 1996/7, in Montpelier and Burlington, Vermont.

Martin Christ will also play this piece at Maybeck Hall in Berkeley, next week. Thanks to Sarah Cahill for invaluable assistance with the current visit of Martin Christ to the United States.

Thanks to Ed, Jackie, Liz, and Walter and Jody, for making this performance possible.

About the performer

Martin Christ studied piano with Jurg Wyttenbach in Basle, with Yvonne Lefebure in Paris, with Dieter Weer and Bruno Seidlhofer in Vienna, and with Stanislas Neuhaus from Moscow. After a beginning as a traditional concert soloist he changed his focus to the exploration and promulgation of the music of our time, but he is still interested in not denying his roots. He likes to work in a number of different ways and styles: as a specialist for the whole piano repertoire since Bach, as an improviser in modern styles, and in the more traditional role of silent movie pianist. He currently teaches at the Zurich Conservatory.