"Concerto for Oboe," 2007 Revision

Oboe and Chamber Orchestra (Strings and 2 Horns)

Matt Fossa's Oboe Concerto

This piece was originally conceived of when I was at Brevard in the summer of 1999. A group of string playing friends of mine were getting together to read down some string quartets and quintets and I decided to tag along. I'd asked them if they'd read down a piece I wanted to write. Well, the next day, I spent all my free hours hacking out a 20-measure tune for oboe and strings. When my colleagues got together, we played through it.

(Incidentally, anyone who read the March-June of 2000 issues of "The Instrumentalist" will see a photo of this event used in the summer music camp ads section... A photographer was wandering around and shooting random activity pictures and, well, he decided to point the camera at us!)

After playing through this little ditty, I began trying to write it into a much longer and fully-developed piece. Sadly, I didn't get too far and, in time, the piece was forgotten. A few years later, after graduating from FSU, premiering "Impressions," and being hired by the Pensacola Symphony, I got the idea to write myself a complete oboe concerto. I knew that I wanted this piece from Brevard to be a part of one of the movements, but it took quite some time for me to develop it properly into what I would call a decent piece of music. (This is why the first movement was finished last!) An interesting thing about my composing this piece was the fact that the second and third movements came to mind very quickly! Perhaps the Great Muse was speaking to me at that time, but in less than a month, I'd finished those two movements! (And then promptly recorded them!)

This piece was written, for the most part, using classical forms and more modern tonalities... though I intended it to be very diatonic and listener-friendly.

Since 2003, I have given several performances of this work, in single-movement presentations and as a complete piece. The most notable renditions happened at the 2006 IDRS conference in Muncie, IN and in 2007 with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. It was for the latter performance that I made considerable revisions to the orchestral material to make it more interesting and also made a few changes to the solo part that would better suit the new orchestral parts. In addition, I reduced the horn section from four to two players, making this piece even more suitable for chamber orchestras.

The First Movement, "Pastoral Sonata," was inspired by a hearing of Orff's "Carmina Burana." When I was thinking of something to write for my friends and I at Brevard, one of the baritone arias from "Carmina" lodged itself into my head and I found myself wondering if I could take the string orchestra accompaniment and write an oboe solo over it to replace the baritone part. The melody was meant to be original and, as I wrote, I very quickly moved away from Mr. Orff's work and into my own realm. Still, the similarity at the beginning is there.

Oboe Concerto

When coming back to this piece (and finishing it), I had new set of musical ideas that involved my friends in the Pensacola Symphony's horn section. I decided to write small solos for each player over the course of this movement as well as some horn chorales that support the solo oboe line.

Oboe Concerto

When I revised the piece for its 2007 orchestral premiere, I was forced to change a few of these moments into passages for string quartet. Other sections in which I had one pair of horns play a passage, followed by the other pair were easy to condense into just two parts.

This movement, initially, has a tonal center of E like the Orff aria. Unlike said aria, the movement modulates quite a bit over its 7 and a half minute duration.

The Second Movement, called "Meditation" was also inspired by someone else's work, but the music is a little more obscure. Memories of the movie The Dark Crystal brought back into my mind a short tune that was played by a flute and clarinet during the Gelfling ruins scene. Within moments of thinking about that little passage, I began composing what would have been a variation on it.

Oboe Concerto

Not long after, the piece began developing a life of its own and, with the addition of some completely original material (2nd theme, accompaniment, etc.) I had completed what I still think is one of my most dramatic sounding works to date! This movement starts in G minor, but then a change of key and mode brings it to a conclusion in E Major, which serves to set up the 3rd movement.

Oboe Concerto

The Third Movement, a Rondo in E Major, was written in such a way that one could arguably segue from the second movement directly into the third with no breaks. I suppose I was inspired in some part by Mozart, but the thematic material itself was all pulled out of my own head! It's a rondo in duple meter, which was very common in the concerti by Mozart and Haydn. The movement has three contrasting sections which are tied together by the light and energetic-sounding rondo theme... 

Oboe Concerto

...giving the piece the form A-B-A-C-A-D-A'.

I would suggest a string section of 6/6/4/4/2 for this piece.


Concerto for Oboe

1999-2012 Matthew A. Fossa