Kyle Gann: Scene from a Marriage for viola and piano (2010)

The musical idea came first, but the analogy to marriage was too perfect. You see these long-married couples all the time: the woman is chatty in a stream-of-consciousness way, desperate to talk to someone, while the man is stolid, lost in his business thoughts, yet not unaffectionate, and taking pride in providing the stability, the framework for her free association. Or else the man is brilliant, comic, or a kvetch and needs an audience, while the woman cloaks her occasional disapproval, reins him in softly, and silently holds everything together. It can work either way (and similarly for gay couples). The fact of marriage creates these contrasts between people whose single behavior would be more moderate, each fulfilling for both of them the functions he or she is most naturally suited for. It's counterpoint. Neither line would be nearly as interesting alone as the two of them together. This is a portrait not of an entire marriage, but of a moment, a segment of an evening alone together - a scene.

Scene from a Marriage was written for the violist Marka Gustavsson.

Duration: 9 minutes

Kyle Gann

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