One summer evening, standing outside on the balcony of a house in the hills of Bavaria, I noticed a lone star, curiously bright in the still-light sky. The sun was just beginning to set, and as the sky got darker, this one star, still standing alone, shone brighter and brighter. I looked across the valley and watched the tree-covered hills get darker, as the star got brighter. Standing there in this solitude, surrounded by the beauty of nature, it was almost a religious experience for me. I decided to record the memory in a piece of music. My German mother-in-law was standing there with me, and I asked her what the name of that star was. She replied, "Abendstern" (evening star), thus naming the piece I was already planning in my head to write and dedicate to her.
This piece contains two elements: the landscape, which I represent with an eighth-note theme harmonized in thirds, and the star, represented by the sustained note "E." At the beginning, the landscape theme is heard in a relatively high register while the star motive is buried in a lower voice. Over the course of the piece, the star gets brighter and brighter as the E moves up to higher octaves. By the end, the landscape descends into the murky darkness, in the celli and double basses. "Abendstern" comes to a close with the star at its brightest, now harmonized, as if by an aura.
Abendstern is available from Theodore Presser.
Indiana University Ad Hoc Orchestra
Paul Mauffray, Conductor