JEROME MOROSS’s concert works encompass more than 20 compositions, including a sonata for a piano duet and string quartet and a symphony that was premiered by conductor Sir Thomas Beecham on October 18, 1943 in Seattle, Washington. It features an “intrinsically American sound” that characterized all of Moross’s compositions in every genre and form.
THE LAST JUDGEMENT 1: THE RESURRECTION OF EVE
Moross considered this ballet score one of his very best works and it is sad that he never had the chance to hear it complete in its orchestral form, which is that of a theatre orchestra rather than a symphonic combination, so that the overall sound is quite different from the Symphony or Variations on a Waltz. The Last Judgement was composed in 1953, but the projected production never materialized. “All very Women’s Lib, twenty years before that became fashionable” the composer wrote (February 15, 1973). “Exonerating women of the Original Sin–where will we go next?
VARIATIONS ON A WALTZ FOR ORCHESTRA
Brash, bright, tuneful, and highly rhythmic, this set of variations is very entertaining listening. Jerome Moross (1913-1983) was a natural melodist. Excellent tunes abound in his music and they were almost always inspired by the accents of American folk and popular melodies. This theme and nine variations transforms one toe-tapping tune into nine others with a variety of dance rhythms flowing from the original waltz.
This music probably originated in a two-piano score for what Moross called his “Ballet Ballads.” These pieces consist of tunes in American ballad form that are sung while dancers mime the stories of the ballads.
The composer writes: “In 1966 I was asked by my then-publisher, Chappell & Co., to write a piece for clarinet choir. I had never heard of the clarinet choir before, but I was assured that clarinet choirs were springing up all over the country and that there was a dearth of literature. I was charmed with the idea of writing for a sextet of clarinets; the tonal possibilities were exciting, ideas began to flow, and very quickly I found myself embarked on the Sonatina for Clarinet Choir.
“When I brought it in, there was a moment of consternation. What had been expected was a 3 or 4 minute work of elementary technique for school groups and I had written a 10 minute piece, quite demanding technically, and meant for concert performance. But they gallantly published the work, anyway.”
COMPLETE CLASSICAL WORKS
JEROME MOROSS was in the vanguard of composers who realized that there was a music of America, for America and written by Americans. Moross grew up with and listened to jazz bands, played in theater pits and found that his own composing style was totally, spontaneously conditioned by it. Having found his métier relatively early in life, he stuck to it through thick and thin to the end. And perhaps because he was so young when he found his voice, his music sounds young—always, early and late. His music is exciting and always fresh but uniquely his own.
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