BROWSE & LISTEN

Solo Music

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Works for Winds

Nocturne, after a painting by Graham Sutherland (2012) | 3'40"

   Alto Flute in G

Works for Strings

Sonata (2010) | 20'

   Violin

Red Bird Etudes, after serigraphs by Charley Harper (2010) | 4'45"

   Clarinet in B-flat

2 Pieces (2013) | 10'

   Viola

Works for Piano

Fugue (2018) | 6'

Letters for John (2017) | 4'

    (arr. for treble instrument & piano)

Lodgepole Pyre: Three Teton Scenes (2016) | 11'

   Double Bass

From Sombre Lands, after a painting by John Hitchens (2013) | 5'30"

    (arr. for orchestra)

Epistles (2009-2010) | 9'

Works for Guitar

Etude-Sonata (2011) | 14'

 

Nocturne, after a painting by Graham Sutherland (2012)

Alto Flute in G

Total duration ca. 3'40"

Single movement work

Listen to a recording on YouTube

Purchase this score from

Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10.00

View the painting and read about the artwork here

Video performance, March 18, 2014 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN by Phil Dikeman

Nocturne is a short study for Alto Flute that took as its point of departure Graham Sutherland’s painting Untitled, Wave-Like Form (1976). Whereas, with my other visually-inspired compositions, the title has played a significant part in the compositional process, here the title offered almost no descriptive encouragement. I hope this musical inscription of Sutherland’s ‘Wave-Like Form’, backlit with its unmentioned blood-red circle, serves in the place of its too-modest title.

 

Red Bird Etudes, after Serigraphs by Charley Harper (2010)

Clarinet in B-flat

Total duration ca. 4'45"

Four-movement work

I. Seeing Red

II. B-r-r-r-r-rd Bath

III. Last Sunflower Seed

IV. Cardinal Closeup

Listen to a recording on YouTube

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

Not literal transcriptions of birdsongs, these musical lines trace the erratic, comic flight paths rather than the calls of these cardinals. ‘Natural Minimalism’ is the way Harper describes his works: “When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of painting.” Therein lies the lure of his art, and the lure of it as a source of musical inspiration.

Video performance, October 20, 2011 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN by Laura Bouffard

"Seeing Red" by Charley Harper, used by permission of The Estate of Charley Harper

 

Sonata (2010)

Violin

Total duration ca. 20' 

Four-movement work

I. Vivo selvaggio

II. Rigidamente

III. Mesto, poco rubato

IV. Introduzione - Presto in moto perpetuo

Listen to recordings on YouTube

Video performance, February 10, 2011 at Vanderbilt University

in Nashville, TN by Kelsey Hudson

Video performance, March 19, 2012 at Vanderbilt University

in Nashville, TN by Luke Witchger

This four movement Sonata was requested by violinist Kelsey Hudson in the spring of 2010. Drawing on recent study of the Yasÿe Violin Sonatas, the final movement of this work includes an interpolation of the dies irae plainchant melody.

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $15

Video performance, February 10, 2011 at Vanderbilt University

in Nashville, TN by Kelsey Hudson

 

2 Pieces (2013)

Viola

Total duration ca. 10'

Two-movement work

1. That's where they were hiding!

2. Looking out a window / going backwards...

Purchase the score

Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

Read the poems that
informed these pieces

Listen to a recording on YouTube

Video performance, March 18, 2014 in Nashville, TN by Phil Dikeman

The titles of the pieces come from the first lines of two different poems that I composed around the same time as these works. The first piece, played with great freedom, alternates between impulsive gestures and longer, flowing lines of thought. The second movement, in a kind of nostalgic three part form, begins like a contemporary Sarabande before launching into a jolting, driving section. It returns to the opening affect, but ends with some traces of disquiet.

 

Cello Suite: Los Visitantes de la Noche, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo (2012)

Violoncello

Total duration ca. 10'30"

Five-movement work

I. Primer Visitante (Slow)

II. Segundo Visitante (Fast)

III. Tercer Visitante (Medium Fast)

IV. Cuarto Visitante (Very Fast)

V. Abolición de la Muerto (Medium Slow)

Listen to a recording on YouTube

Video performance, March 18, 2014 in Nashville, TN by Justin Goldsmith

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Image: Excerpt from "Los Visitantes de la Noche" by Fernando de Szyszlo. Image used by permission.

The Cello Suite is the third of, at the moment, five works that I have composed responding to the paintings of the Polish/Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyszlo (the others: Recinto for Double Bass and Mar de Lurín for Oboe and Guitar, Sol Negro for 2 Guitars, and Extraño Lugar for Accordian and Guitar Quartet). Hermetically symbolic, sensuous, primordial, Fernando de Szyszlo’s work often takes the forms of series of paintings on a single subject. There is also plenty of cross-over in de Szyszlo’s paintings: a three-legged (sacrificial?) table that appears in a Mar de Lurín is a key visual leitmotif in the Recinto series, and the inhuman, totemic figures in many of the Mar de Lurín paintings appear in several Recinto paintings as well as La Habitación No. 23 series.

Similarly, Los Visitantes de la Noche takes its inspiration from a collection of paintings; the figures appear singularly in paintings entitled Visitante, several of them appear together in Abolición de la Muerte, and they each are present in Los Visitantes de la Noche. The four visitor figures, framed by light emanating from crude-hewn doors (a feature shared with the Recinto paintings), shape the form of the work and the character of the first four movements. Szyszlo’s painting raises questions about these characters. Have they just entered? Are we in this room as well, trapped? After portraits of these four Vistitantes, the fifth movement is their retreat, Abolición de la Muerte, the banishment of death. Here, in these separate paintings, the angle has shifted and de Szyszlo shows the visitors now with a wan light cast upon them (harmonics), perhaps showing them as only painted stone, perhaps calling them back. The paintings do not seem interested in answering our questions; they evoke a world, primal and dream-like. The loose narrative that my suite constructs is my own attempt to interpret de Szyszlo’s dream world. Equally, however, it is my attempt to create a work that evokes similar moods of disquiet and mystery, as a tribute in my own medium of choice to one of my favorite painters.

I am grateful to Justin Goldsmith, who first requested the piece and to whom it is dedicated, for his wonderful premiere on March 18, 2014 at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music in Nashville, TN, along with projections of the paintings with permission of Fernando de Szyszlo at a concert themed around music paired with visual art and poetry.

Purchase the score

Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $15 

Lodgepole Pyre: Three Teton Scenes (2016)

Double Bass

Total duration ca. 11'

Three continuous-movement work:

1. "Jenny Lake Lodge"

2."Lodgepole Pyre"

3. "Suddenly, Mountains"

 
Listen to a recording on YouTube

Video performance, August 2016 at Berol Lodge, AMK Ranch, Grand Teton National Park, WY by Rick Barber

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Photo: Grand Teton National Park, WY, June, 2011 by Peter Dayton

In 2011 I had the privilege to visit Grand Teton National Park (and Yellowstone) with my family, staying within the park at Jenny Lake Lodge. I was immediately struck by the vast openness, imposing grandeur, and comparative quiet and stillness of this place. I was also particularly moved to see the standing and fallen charred lodgepole pine trees from the massive fire that took place in the 80’s in the national parks. Due to the arid climate, the natural processes both of degradation as well as new growth have been slowed nearly to a standstill. This work for solo bass, composed for the Wyoming Festival, is cast in three movements played continuously. The first is an illustration of nostalgia. The second contrasts two primary ideas, one anxious and one elegiac. It elaborates on both the brittle, burnt qualities of the trees as well as the morbid loveliness of the skeletal groves. The final movement’s title refers to the topography of Grand Teton National Park, as there are no foothills, but instead flatlands and scrub before, suddenly, mountains appear. Imposing, gorgeous, ominous, seemingly unchanging, their music is one of waiting. Formally, earlier gestures and ideas appear, as the mountains oversee everything in the park. The piece is dedicated to my dear friend Michael Brown.

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

 

Recinto, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo (2011)

Double Bass

Total duration ca. 6'

Single movement work

Listen to a recording on YouTube

Video performance, October 23, 2011, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN by Brycen Ingersoll

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"Recinto," by Fernando de Szyszlo, used with permission.

This work was composed after the premiere of my Sonata for Solo Violin in the winter of 2011 at the request of Brycen Ingersoll. Its title comes from Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyszlo's Recinto, or 'Enclosure,' series. The windows and staircases clearly visible in these paintings raise the question of whether the enclosure is figurative or literal, and, if figurative, if the enclosure is a voluntary or involuntary state. Either way, the presence of what appears to be a sacrificial table tells us that the enclosure is a dangerous place.

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

 

Fugue (2018)

Piano

Total duration ca. 6'

Single movement work

Dedicated to pianist and vocalist Brad Rinaldo, for giving me opportunities to perform piano, this piece grew out of a challenge to write more solo piano music that I myself could perform. This fugue uses the letters of Brad's name to generate the pitches of the fugue's subject, proceeding along the lines of the Shostakovich 24 Preludes & Fugues in a neo-classical, not-quite-Baroque style. 

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

 

Letters for John (2017)

Piano

Total duration ca. 4'

Single movement work

My friendship and correspondence with British painter John Hitchens  has been one of the great honors and joys of my life. A friendship that began as an artistic dialogue with the work of his father Ivon Hitchens, and then came to include John’s own beautiful paintings and our first meeting in West Sussex, I am deeply gratified by the quarterly exchange of news, images, and ideas that has persisted for several years between us. The musical material for this work emerged from a musical translation of John Hitchens’s name into notes. All of the music emanates from this core, hence ‘letters’ are both literal correspondence, and letters arranged into musical ideas in this piece. The style of the work also reflects my understanding of the aerial-photograph-inspired abstraction of many of Hitchens’s paintings, with circularity, repetition, and curvaceous shapes. For John, with deep affection.

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

From Sombre Lands, after a painting by John Hitchens (2013)

Piano

Total duration ca. 5'30"

Single movement work

 
Listen to a recording on YouTube

Purchase this score from

Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

"From Sombre Lands," by John Hitchens, oil on canvas (50" x 192" / 127cm x 487.5cm)

Video performance, March 13, 2020, Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton, UK by Peter Dayton

I had originally conceived From Sombre Lands (2013) as a work for solo piano. It was requested by a dear friend and fellow composer for a recital which would connect Rachmaninoff’s Etude Tableau in D Minor Op. 33, No. 4 and Chopin’s Nocturne in B Major Op. 62, No. 1 on her program. I turned to the work of British semi-abstract landscape artist John Hitchens for inspiration, as works inspired by or responding to pieces of visual art have figured largely in my creative impetus, and I had already composed a piece based on the paintings of John’s father, Ivon Hitchens, himself a well-respected modern landscape artist. While the painting was integral in beginning the piano composition, upon completion it seemed that the work had taken a different direction. However, when I orchestrated From Sombre Lands, I felt I recovered some of my original intentions, the use of varied timbres better matching Hitchen’s own tactile, almost textile, textural variety and choice of warm colors than the piano’s timbral limitations. From Sombre Lands is dedicated to Shelby Flowers and to Matthieu Cognet, who near-simultaneously performed this work at Vanderbilt University and as part of (SUNY) Stony Brook University’s 2013 Piano Project respectively. The piano version was awarded first prize in the national division and fourth prize in the international division of the Golden Key Music Festival Piano Composition Competition. I am grateful to John Hitchens for the lively correspondence we have maintained, partly thanks to this work.

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From Sombre Lands (for Piano) is featured on the independently-released CD "Aspects of Landscape: Music inspired by the world of John Hitchens." Recorded by James Cameron Dennis

From Sombre Lands, after a painting by John Hitchens (2010-2011)

Piano

Total duration ca. 9' 

Five-movement work

1. to my friends

2. to Michael Alec Rose

3. to Jama Reagan

4. to Michael Slayton

5. to Matthew McDonald

 
Listen to a recording on YouTube

Purchase this score from

Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $10

Video performance, October 23, 2011, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN by Peter Dayton

A series of short, dedicatory pieces written between 2010 and 2011, each of these movements is dedicated to a formative figure during my time at Vanderbilt University. Each of the movements begins from the same starting point, with the final movement integrating motives and gestures in from the previous movements.

Etude-Sonata (2011)

Guitar

Total duration ca. 14'15"

Three movement work

I. With melancholy

II. Intensely

III. Passionately

 
Listen to a recording on YouTube

Purchase this score from

Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $15

Video performance, March 19, 2012, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN by Joshua McGuire

A Sonata in three movements, each movement is built from permutations of a single idea. An etude-like repetition of certain gestures is woven into the fabric of the piece. In the first movement, an elegiac ostinato undergoes different shifts in harmonies and registers. The second movement is a perpetuum mobile that plays with ambiguities between compound and simple triple meters. The final movement’s intensity comes from its widely spaced, full-bodied chords, and from the evolution of a repeated progression. Exploring different textures and recapitulating the Sonata’s opening, the work goes beyond the confines of an etude as an exercise foremost in technique, and builds a comprehensive dramatic arc. The Sonata is dedicated to my dear friend Joshua McGuire.