for low brass ensemble
La belle captive was written for the Morehead State University Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble for the occasion of the MSU 1995 Contemporary Music Festival, to which I was invited to be the guest composer. They told me that whenever possible they like to have the guest composer write a piece specifically to be premiered at the festival. When they told me that they had a particularly good tuba-euphonium ensemble, I jumped at the change to write a piece for this wonderful combination of instruments. This might be partially explained by the fact that I am a string bass player, so I know what it’s like to be hungry for repertory, but I also have always been fond of writing for unusual groups of instruments, and have written several pieces before for like-instrument ensembles (bassoon quartet, ten trumpets, eleven string basses, etc.).
La belle captive is the title of a Magritte painting I saw at the Menil Collection in Houston during an exhibit of Surrealist art. Like so many of Magritte’s works, it contains images of the impossible, the most striking of which is a burning tuba on a beach. Since this is such a jarring, confusing image, and one so at odds (at least at first glance) with the title, I have written a piece which is (at least at first) similarly at odds with the title: loud and relentless, perhaps even brutal at times. The listener must judge whether the music is ultimately appropriate or not.