About Rhapsodic Scherzo For Elizabeth Ann

A little bit about A Rhapsodic Scherzo for Solo Piano, an example of my own music.
Also news about the young lady after the little girl grew up ... and the musician in her life.

You can look at the music here (its PDF is 191 KB).

I was thinking about the first birthday of the first of her generation (my parents’ grandchild), and about her daddy, my brother Robin, buying a new piano and taking piano lessons, and about him and her mummy, Kirsty, bringing up their baby on the other side of the world;  and I thought that the only thing I could do for this occasion was to write a piece of piano music to celebrate.

So what should this piece be? It should not be too difficult for someone who is not a brilliant concert pianist to play. I hope it isn’t. It should in its content perhaps say something about the experience of the arrival of a baby. And — as is my custom when trying to write a piece of music for somebody in particular — I wove the names of the people into the music.

Being neither trained, nor a particularly accomplished composer, I have very little ability to sustain great musical architecture; on the other hand I wanted to do something more than a two-page song sheet. I ended up with an episodic little piece that tries to tell a tale without being too specifically programmatic, and that has one or two memorable phrases — so I hope, anyway. It is worth explaining how it came about, because if I don’t write it all down now, but the piece survives, I will forget the story and nobody else will ever understand (unless they rediscover it for themselves in some far future, by way of musicology).

The conversion of names into tunes is a standard method based on the German tradition in which letter B means the note B flat and letter H means the note B natural. The letters I to P and Q to X are equated to A to H; Y=A; Z=B. Thus Elizabeth Ann Hudson becomes E D A Bb A Bb E D B A F F B E D C G F.  However this doesn’t work perfectly so I cheated slightly: I made the second Bb a B natural and put in two sharps so that the Cs and Fs are sharpened and the piece is in D Major, traditionally a bright, happy key. This then, the first phrase, most of the first line of the sheet music, is the Elizabeth Ann theme. Since Kirsty is central to the arrival of Elizabeth Ann, we also have the Kirsty theme; “Kirsty” is C A Bb C D G and that comes in around the place the music lurches into the key of F, not exactly a neighbouring key.

The start of the piece is the announcement of the idea. The rest of the piece is a series of tunes and sounds strung together loosely based around the idea and tending to provide a musical reflection on the experience of the baby, through expectancy and arrival to walking with a pushchair out in the park and then baby learning to crawl and walk herself.

Lizzie and Amir at their wedding

As to the interpretation of the struggle between the two name tunes (and the clashing keys of D and F) for the central tplace in the ear, and the bumpy section followed by the long series o scales and at last slow deep notes and high chords, I will allow Kirsty and other young mums to judge: as Liz Hodgkinson said on late night television the other day, we men can never really know.

Finally, the title: just “For …” the little girl. Why? Obvious: a nod to Beethoven and his piece for a girl whose name also begins “Eli…”: Für Elise.

Click here to hear this tone poem to a toddler.
This track lasts about 8 minutes:

Slightly faster, this lasts about 7 minutes:

Now hear it on the harp!

Here is the piece played on the harp instead of the piano, a sound which many people love:

Ian P. Hudson  April 1992 to October 2019.                                    Polymetis, Headley, England.

Update: 2018

All her life, since she learnt to talk and walk, Elizabeth Ann has been known as Lizzie.

I got to know Lizzie on my two visits to Sydney, Australia, where they all live. I went for a few weeks in 1996 when Lizzie was 5 and just starting school, and again in 2005-6 when she was 14.

On 22nd October 2017 my niece, then of age 26, married her young man, Amir Bukan. He is a member of a band called Anno Domini; as a wedding present I made their Wikipedia page.
The photo on Wikipedia I adapted with approval from Amir from their Facebook page.

Their stuff? Not my style, I’m afraid. But Amir Bukan is a keyboard player. See any connection?

Compare the photos of Anno Domini; nothing to do with the Rhapsodic Scherzo For Elizabeth Ann, but look:

Previously (not now) on their Facebook page:

On their Wikipedia page: same size faces, but
it had to be brighter and more compact,
so I made this to use on Wikipedia: