Portrait of Peter Paul Koprowski thumbtack

Intermezzo

Duration: 15 minutes

Written: 1994

Premiered: December 6, 1994

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra

Conductor: Mario Bernardi

Instrumentation:

  • Strings (minimum 6, 5, 4, 4, 2)

Background:

In April 1994, while planning to visit my family in Poland, I learned of the sudden death of my father. Paradoxically, the news arrived on the day of my return from the premiere of Letters,a work deeply influenced by my father's survival of a World War II prison camp.
He never heard the composition - I was planning to take it with me to Poland. We lived our lives thousands of miles apart for nearly 30 years. The memories of my childhood, with flashes of his playful teasing about my "seriousness" mirrored in my early orchestral works, lifted my spirits. I remembered his challenge to write a "simple" waltz - a challenge which I chose not to meet at the time.

I decided to honour my father's life and his passion for the waltz in my next composition. Out of the ashes of a sinfonia for strings, then under way, this Intermezzo came to life. It mirrors that short time during which I learned the value of optimism in the shadow of grief and regret.

Intermezzo was written for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra on commission from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

It is scored for strings alone - the second such work of five for string orchestra in my orchestral repertoire. It is in one movement which breaks into several contrasting sections. The composition makes use of a Viennese waltz side by side with some dark, contrasting sections. At times the dramatic intensity is extremely high - the music seems to scream with despair! At other times the composition settles into an otherworldly state of calm.