Euphonic Blues
composer: Nancy Galbraith (2012)
genre(s): symphony orchestrawind ensemblebrass band
length: 1 movement, 10:00 minutes
orchestration: 1pic, 2fl(pic), 2ob, 2cl, 1bs-cl, 2bn;
4hn, 3tpt, 2tbn, 1bs-tbn, tba;
hrp, pno, timp, 4 perc; strings
publisher: Subito Music Publishing (ASCAP)
60 Depot Street, Verona, NJ 07044 • 973-857-3440

world premiere: 16 September 2012
Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic OrchestraRonald Zollman, conductor
Carnegie Music Hall • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
program notes:

"Euphonic Blues" was composed for the Carnegie Mellon School of Music for its Centennial Celebration concert in September 2012. In 2013, Altena Brass of the Netherlands commissioned and performed the world premiere of the composer's brass band arrangement. In 2019, the Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble commissioned and performed the world premiere of the composer's wind ensemble arrangement.

composer's note:

My intention for "Euphonic Blues" was to write a predominantly melodic work using polychords and lush diatonic harmonies that reflects a somewhat bluesy and nostalgic sound. Much of my music falls under the umbrella of "post-minimalism" as it is replete with rhythmic drive and harmonic textures. My more extended instrumental compositions also include areas with a more melodic character and gentler pulse contrasting the surrounding livelier content. For this piece I wanted to focus more on the melodic, nostalgic side since I am writing to celebrate the past 100 years of this venerable institution. My music also exhibits a distinctively American sound, and this naturally led to the bluesy character of some the music.

"Euphonic Blues" opens with the soft, long lyrical lines of the strings, and the sweet, reflective melody of a solo flute. After further development, the music evolves into a majestic, full orchestral climax. This is followed by a dance-like middle section that is abruptly interrupted by another rhythmic section in 7/8 meter. A sudden trumpet fanfare leads to a repeat of the earlier bluesy climax, and the work closes quietly and nostalgically, as it began.

I am delighted for this opportunity to honor the School of Music with a work that is certainly influenced by my past quarter-century as a composer and professor at Carnegie Mellon, and to share that honor with my distinguished colleagues in the composition department. —N.G.

press bytes: The gently reflective spirit that opens Nancy Galbraith's Euphonic Blues proved an alluring way to start the concert. The nine-minute piece is impressive in its emotional range, rewarding for the course of its musical ideas and masterly in its orchestral palette. Reminiscent in some ways of the era of Aaron Copland and Roy Harris, it was a joy to discover and received a standing ovation. —Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  The concert opened with Nancy Galbraith's Euphonic Blues, a piece that navigates a rich orchestration and varied tonal landscape, at once poignant then triumphant, like a dramatic movie score. Her harmonic language has a moving familiarity to it; those comforting flavors contrasting with an exotic-sounding 7/8 section in the middle. It was an affecting performance. —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
recordings: Nancy Galbraith: Strange Travels
Centaur Records (CRC 3406) • 2014 • UPC: 044747310626
Carnegie Philharmonic Orchestra • Ronald Zollman, conductor