Class of 1960 Lecture
Prof. Claude Baker
"Three Phantasy Pieces for Viola and Percussion"

Professor Claude Baker (b. 1948) gives a pre-concert talk which also includes insights into his composition Three Phantasy Pieces for Viola and Percussion (2003; revised, 2005). The piece was commissioned by the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa for Christine Rutledge and Daniel Moore. Each movement draws its inspiration in turn from three well-known compositions for viola. The first piece in the set makes oblique reference to the second movement of the Sonata op. 120, No. 1 for viola and piano by Johannes Brahms. The next uses as its structural (and motivic) basis the second Märchenbild of Robert Schumann and provides a light-hearted foil for the more somber outer movements.

The final piece is a parody of the “Procession of the Pilgrims” from Hector Berlioz’s Harold in Italy and is, in essence, a chaconne (a musical form based on the continuous variation of a series of chords). The gradual unfolding and intensification of the chaconne pattern in both the viola and vibraphone is interrupted at the movement’s climax with a modified quotation of the “Canto Religioso” from Berlioz’s work.

Claude Baker (b. 1948) attained his doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal composition teachers were Samuel Adler and Warren Benson. As a composer, Baker has received a number of professional honors. He is currently Class of 1956 Chancellor’s Professor of Composition in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington. At the beginning of the 1991-92 concert season, he was appointed Composer-in-Residence of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for eight years. In recognition of his contributions to the St. Louis community during that period, Baker was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1999.

The Class of 1960 Scholars Fund, established at their 25th Reunion, brings eminent researchers from other colleges and universities to campus to give colloquia.

Following the talk, the Williams Chamber Players perform in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall in a concert that features this work by Professor Baker.