Three Epigrams

  • Title Three Epigrams
  • Year 2008
  • Instr pno
  • Duration 10 min
  • Categories Solo, Keyboard
  • Publisher ACA

Celebration (for Charles Wuorinen at 70 - A Birthday Salute); Expressions (...after Luigi Nono); Upheavals (...after Emilio Vedova); Commissioned by the Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova

“The Three Epigrams were written at the request of Italian pianist and composer Fabio Grasso for a concert of the Plurimo Ensemble in Venice, Italy, celebrating two Venetian artists: the painter Emilio Vedova, and the composer Luigi Nono. At the time of the commission, one Epigram had already been composed; this was for the 70th birthday of my colleague and friend, composer Charles Wuorinen. Entitled Celebration, it seeks to convey an atmosphere appropriately suited to the occasion. For the second and third Epigrams, it seemed fitting to pay homage to Venice’s two favorite sons of the late 20th century. Expressions, the second movement, nods to a similarly titled work of Nono’s, and was inspired by Nono’s own very special use of pointillistic technique (where fragmented melodies pass from one register to another, and often from one instrument to another). The third movement, Upheavals, was written after absorbing Vedova’s paintings, with their vivid imagery and violent juxtapositions; elements that found musical representation in jagged-edged contours and swift shifts of mood." LK

First performance:
Fabio Grasso
Sale Apollinee,
Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Italy, December 6, 2009


Se-Hee Jin, performing Three Epigrams


It is good to hear Steven Beck solo in the Three Epigrams (2008), the first movement of which, “Celebration,” was originally a stand-alone piece for Charles Wuorinen’s 70th birthday; the second and third movements reference Luigi Nono and the visual artist Emilo Vedova (who himself collaborated with Nono). The second movement’s title, “Expressions,” echoes Nono’s Due Espressioni and is an exercise in sonic beauty, Beck offers up a crystalline sound; the elusive finale, “Upheavals,” with its contrasting gestures of granite and air inspired by Vedova’s paintings, is similarly convincing.

Colin Clarke, Fanfare (04/2021)


With pianist Se-Hee Jin, after performance of Three Epigrams at Spectrum, NYC