Duration: 22 minutes
Written: 1972
Premiered: March 21, 1973
Conductor: Peter Paul Koprowski
Concert Hall, Edward Johnson Building
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Clarinet 1 (changes to small Clarinet in Eb)
  • Clarinet 2 (changes to Bass Clarinet in BB)
  • Clarinet 3 (changes to Bass Clarinet in Bb)
  • Trumpet 1 in C (doubles on Piccolo)
  • Trumpet 2 in C
  • Percussion I (Slap Stick, Snare Drum, 4 Tom-toms, Timpani in E and B, Castanets, Celesta, middle size Gong, Bass Drum)
  • Percussion II (Xylophone, Wood Block, 4 Suspended Cymbals, Claves, Slap Stick, Ratchet, Maraca, Castanets, low Timpani, Bass Drum, large Tam-tam, middle size Gong)
  • 2 Pianos
  • 4 Celli
  1. Tension
  2. Incessancy
  3. Relaxation

After the early period of writing unabashedly tonal music (1959 – 1964), came a period characterized by a total rejection of tonality (1964 – 1972), of which Canzona for 13 Soloists was the final works. Just as I let several of my tonal scores be consumed by fire, I did the same with a number of scores of this phase. String Quartet nr 1, String Trio, Vigoresque, and Five Preludes for Clarinet and Piano were some of the remaining chamber compositions of this period. It was a fascinating time.

I joined the main-stream of composers determined to be “modern”, perhaps ground-breaking. We used all the familiar techniques of the time: music of clusters, twelve tone method, chance and more. I had no idea at the time that Canzona would lead me back to tonality in a curious and fascinating way. It seems to have opened the door for all my future compositions.
The work was written between October and December of 1972 in Toronto, where it received its premiere in March 1973. Although conceived in one continuous movement, the composition breaks into 3 definite sections called divisions, the titles of which define the qualities within each one of them. The whole piece is serialized according to the principals of the Golden Proportion. This serial technique includes various aspects of architecture, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, and articulation.
The first division (Tension) deals with blocks of sound which constantly build larger structures. The continuous incessant second division (Incessancy) is a double canon on a redefined passacaglia with various permutations and transformations. The third division (Relaxation) is a retrospective of the two preceding divisions. Each individual instrumental part has the characteristics and demands of a solo piece. The electronics are desirable, but optional.
The piece is dedicated to my parents.

“Music of numbing ferocity and fierce, shrieking dissonances carried by a driving rhythm... Koprowski conducted his own Canzona for Thirteen Soloists, and left the audience stunned by the force of the amplified music, especially the first movement - Tension. Koprowski's demonic appearance as conductor added to the effect, which was changed to one of intense pressure in the second movement - Incessancy, and relived only in the third - Relaxation."

- LONDON FREE PRESS, January 20, 1975