The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice
for viola and piano (2005)

4½ min.

19 February 2006
Toby Appel, viola / James Godsworthy, piano
Companion Pieces - Music for Piano, Viola and Voice; Reisinger Concert Hall, Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, NY

23 February 2006
Toby Appel, viola / James Godsworthy, piano
Greenwich House Arts / North River Music Series 20th Anniversary Concert; The Renee Weiler Recital Hall; Greenwich House Music School
New York, NY

Written in memory of violist Jacob Glick

Biscardi Music Press No. B48-05-1
Distribution: Theodore Front Musical Literature, Inc.

The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice, for viola and piano (2005), was written in memory of violist Jacob Glick, internationally recognized violist and teacher. He was principal viola in many groups, and as a chamber music coach his inspirational and kind guidance was legendary. He championed the music of the 18th century in his performance of numerous works for the viola d'amore, and he was an advocate of contemporary music and of living composers, premiering over 200 new works as a performer and encouraging the study and performance of new music as a music festival director and as a college teacher and coach.

The title was suggested by a passage from Andrea Camilleri's mystery novel, Voice of the Violin (2003), translated by Stephen Sartarelli, where Inspector Montalbano becomes aware of a violin that "had suddenly become a voice, a woman's voice, that was begging to be heard and understood. Slowly but surely the notes turned into syllables, or rather into phonemes, and yet they expressed a kind of lament, a song of ancient suffering that at moments reached searing, mysteriously tragic heights."

The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice takes as its departure a quote from the last movement of Schumann's Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47 (1842), and includes self-references to Di Vivere, a work of mine that Jacob Glick admired. In The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice one thing becomes another: there is a transformation from Schumann to Biscardi; the viola moves out of a chamber texture into a solo role; and I celebrate the musical legacy transferred from generation to generation, acknowledging the work of Jacob Glick's daughter, soprano Judith Bettina.

Residencies in 2005 at The Bogliasco Foundation's Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities in Italy and at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, United Kingdom, supported the writing of this work.

Outstanding performances include Biscardi's The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice. This is an elegiac and impassioned soliloquy for solo viola, inspired by Andrea Camilleri's 2003 novel La voce del violino (The Voice of the Violin) and composed in memory of Jacob Glick, a violist and teacher who championed eighteenth-century viola d'amore music but also premiered over 200 works and encouraged study of new music.
David Milsom, A-Z of String Players (Naxos)

"The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice" for viola and piano impresses with stylistic grace, distant from the imperviousness of much contemporary music. The work, as stated in the title, quietly unveils the possibility of transforming the viola into a silky inspiration, into a melody also made up of harmonics, with fascinating interconnections with the piano that is an equal and dynamic partner.
Cultura & Spettacoli, Il Gazzettino, Mestre, Italy (March 2015)

[From] the earlier works of the set, . . . we move to a more open, resonant, and emotionally forward world in the later music. One gathers from both his program notes and the music itself, that Biscardi deeply loves the repertoire, finds inspiration from it, and often builds his pieces as responses to particular works. This is particularly true of The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice, which quotes a phrase of Schumann, and integrates it into its own fabric with the seamlessness of a dream.
Robert Carl, Fanfare: The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors (January 2012)

Finally, the only nondescript thing about The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice is the title itself, which is taken from a line in an obscure mystery novel. Like Companion Piece, it is a lyrical, slightly melancholic and rather lovely short, written in memory of Jacob Glick, the violist father of American soprano Judith Bettina.
Byzantion, MusicWeb International Classical Reviews (September 11, 2011)

The Viola Had Suddenly Become a Voice (2005), title from an Andrea Camilleri mystery novel, is a short piece for viola and piano written in memory of violist Jacob Glick. It opens with a quote from Schumann's Piano Quartet, with Schumann changing back and forth into Biscardi in the form of more quotes from his own music.
Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide (November/December 2011)

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