By 1964 I had about 40 compositions, most of them for the piano. I do not call them my “school works”, as I wasn’t receiving any composition lessons at the time. Rather, I refer to them as my “kiddy” pieces. I was self-taught in those years – read books on harmony and counterpoint, listened to music, and studied the scores.
Yet, when I revisited some of these works recently, (many were justly destroyed over the years, some were lost), I recognized that they were more than just exercises in composition. They had a shape and were consistent in their harmonic language. They showed basic resemblance to my favourite music at the time, compositions that I played or, more often, works that I wished I could play. I resolved to bring some of these works before the public. This set consists of Scherzando (1958), Three Preludes (1959), Two Mazurkas (1961), and Piano Sketches (1964).
Three Preludes remain some of my favourite early piano works. Written when I was 12 years old, they demonstrate movement towards rich harmonies, which became the basis of so many of my later works, which include the frequently performed orchestral In Memoriam Karol Szymanowski (written when I was 16), Epitaph for Strings (1980), Symphony of Nordic Tales (1995), Ancestral Voices for String Orchestra (1996), as well as various concerti.
Even though the resemblance to some well known composers (Scriabin, Szymanowski) is clearly in evidence, Three Preludes foreshadow my tendency to think in complex textures embodied in rich harmonies and intricate counterpoint, which has been the basis of my orchestral writing for the last two decades.
Until now, known only to me, the third prelude was the first piece written away from the piano, on a tree stump in a forest during a break in a school outing.