After a moving performance by the pianist Frans van Ruth of the Pavane by Maurice Ravel, a concert producer asked me to write a new piano piece as a compliment to my “Two Pieces”. Of course, Ravel’s Pavane was on my piano while composing this piece, as well as a few other works composed at the beginning of last century including a piece by the Polish/Dutch composer Ignace Lilian of the same title. The title is a reference to the Charlie Chaplin movie of 1931, which, to me, represents the feeling and emotions of the period between the world wars, the interbellum.
Hopefully this feeling comes through in the piece. For years, the motive of the piece haunted me. I knew that the motive was related to a motive of a famous work that I had played in my youth, but it is only recently that I discovered that the work is Liszt’s Les Préludes, an orchestral work that I performed as a French Horn player in high school in America.
Karel Pexdir (Czech composer), Vera Müllerová, Jeff Hamburg, Dunya Verwey, Jiri Bezdek (Czech composer)
City Lights was performed tonight in the Museum Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis in Amsterdam by the Czech pianist Vera Müllerová. She’s performing my piece in a program ‘Fantasy in Music’ which has its basis in the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue by J.S. Bach and Images by Claude Debussy. The performances of Bach and Debussy were impressive, powerful and colorful, which certainly rubbed off on the performance of City Lights.
Vera’s going to play this program the coming week in Schloss Almoshof, Nuremberg; Uttenreuth, Germany; Hall of Music, Plzen, Czech Republic.