Courtship Songs was commissioned by Linda and Jack Hoeschler for a performance at their fifteenth wedding anniversary party in 1981. It is scored for flute, oboe, cello, and piano—all instruments which are played by members of the Hoeschler family.
The various movements of Courtship Songs are intended to depict the spirit and development of a relationship. The first movement, “Proclamation,” sets a joyous atmosphere full of energy. It refers to the anniversary celebration specifically and to a celebration of love in general.
The second movement, “Greeting,” recalls the first conversation at the beginning of a relationship. The mood is at once tentative and excited with awkward pauses where each speaker seems to grope for words. This movement uses no piano. “Courtship,” the third movement is an extended one, which contains episodes of contrasting feeling. The opening and closing sections are characterized by an abundance of rhythmic energy. The middle section, featuring an extended cello solo, is tender and lyrical. “Betrothal” is appropriately solemn and wondrous. Instrumental colors create much of the mood. “Celebration” begins with a similar feeling to “Betrothal,” but soon regains the energy and verve of the opening movement from which it quotes extensively.
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