Meet the composers

EZRA SIMS

String Quartet No. 5 I. Quick II. Thoughtfully and very slow III. Fast

Premiered by the Pacifica Quartet. November, 2003 Commissioned by AFCM.

Sponsored by: George and Elinor Marcek, members of the Arizona Senior Academy and Academy Village, and the estate of Carol Kramer.

Published: FrogPeak Music ( fp@frogpeak.org )

Composer's website: http://www.ezrasims.com/

The composer on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Sims

Ezra Sims is known primarily as a composer of microtonal music. After his 1959 professional debut of twelve-tone music at a New York composers' forum, he began to focus almost exclusively on microtonal music. Mr. Sims has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Koussevitsky Foundation. He has lectured on his music in the U.S. and abroad, most notably at symposiums in Hamburg, Heidelburg, and Salzburg. His music is published by Frog Peak Music (www. frogpeak.org) and is available on numerous CDs.

The composer writes: The piece proceeds with a Brahms-like development of two basic melodic ideas: one, the paired augmented fourths/diminished fifths relationship; the other, a curling motive around or within some form of a minor third. Its form derives from the deployment of these developments through a sequence of keys centering around C.

I find composers' disquisitions on the exquisite formal procedures of their music boring. If the piece isn't clear and convincing, no amount of program notes will make it so. The three movements, though obviously differentiated, are played without pause, and therefore seek only in the last to reach tonal closure.

It concerns itself--as does all my music since around 1974--with the fact that the asymmetrical 24-note microtonal scale drawn from a 72-note chromatic scale and used at all times in some transposition or other is made up of strictly harmonic intervals. It thereby provides a sense of tonality analogous to that heard in tonal music by use of the diatonic scales. It also results in every interval coming in at least two different sizes, so that there are always at least two different pitches some sort of augmented fourth or diminished fifth away from any note.

---Ezra Sims, 2003