About this Piece
Missy Mazzoli’s music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, the American Composers Orchestra, New York City Opera, the Minnesota Orchestra, the South Carolina Philharmonic, NOW Ensemble, and many others. She has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, Bard College Conservatory, and the Whitney Museum of Art. Her music has been featured on numerous festivals, including the 2007 and 2009 Bang-on-a-Can New Music Marathon, the Cabrillo Festival (Santa Cruz), the Gaudeamus New Music Festival (Amsterdam), and the Ecstatic Music Festival (New York).
In 2011 she will premiere Violent, Violent Sea, a new orchestral work, performed by the League of Composers Chamber Orchestra at New York’s Miller Theater, as well as Dissolve, O my Heart, a new solo work for violinist Jennifer Koh commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Other upcoming projects include the February, 2012 premiere of her first multimedia chamber opera, Song from the Uproar, at the venerable New York venue The Kitchen.
Recent projects include new works for eighth blackbird, Kronos Quartet, the Santa Fe Chamber Players, violist Nadia Sirota, Ensemble ACJW, and Present Music (Milwaukee), and film scores to accompany films by Alice Guy Blaché.
Mazzoli is the recipient of four ASCAP Young Composer Awards, a Fulbright Grant to the Netherlands, and grants from the Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, and the Barlow Endowment. She is also active as an educator and a mentor to young composers.
Mazzoli is an active pianist and keyboardist, and often performs with Victoire, an “all-star, all-female quintet” (Time Out New York) she founded in 2008 dedicated exclusively to her own compositions. In the past few years they have played in venues all over the world including Millennium Park (Chicago), The Winter Garden (New York, as part of the Bang-on-a-Can New Music Marathon), The Music Gallery (Toronto), and Le Poisson Rouge (New York, as part of the Wordless Music Series). In February 2011 they joined The National, Owen Pallett, and Efterklang on a tour of the Netherlands as part of the Cross-Linx Festival. Their debut full-length CD, Cathedral City, was named one of 2010’s best classical albums by Time Out New York, NPR, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.
She attended the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and Boston University. Her music is published by G. Schirmer.
The composer has provided this note:
Dissolve, O my Heart has its roots in a late-night conversation over Chinese food and cupcakes with violinist Jennifer Koh. She told me about her Bach & Beyond project, a program that combines Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas with newly commissioned works, and asked if I would write a piece that referenced Bach’s Partita in D Minor. This request was, to put it mildly, utterly terrifying; the last movement of the Partita, the Chaconne, is undoubtedly the most famous piece of solo violin literature in the world. It overwhelmed Brahms, has been subject to hundreds of transcriptions and arrangements over the past two centuries, and is dizzying in its contrapuntal complexity. But something about Jennifer’s enthusiasm was infectious, and I agreed to the project before I realized what I was getting myself into. Jennifer seemed to approach Bach through the lens of contemporary music, and I realized that this was what this new piece should do as well.
Dissolve, O my Heart begins with the first chord of Bach’s Chaconne, a now-iconic D-minor chord, and spins out from there into an off-kilter series of chords that doubles back on itself, collapses, and ultimately dissolves in a torrent of fast passages. The only direct quote from the Partita is that first chord, which anchors the entire piece even as it threatens to spiral out of control. The title comes from an aria in the St. John Passion, but has many potential interpretations.
Dissolve, O my Heart was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and will receive its world premiere performance tonight.