October 1988, contrabassoonist Norman Spielberg asked me to compose a concerto
for contrabassoon and small orchestra, to be premiered by the Concerto Soloists
Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. He
asked that it highlight the lyrical side of the contrabassoon rather than the
grotesque effects often linked to this instrument. Being a bass clarinetist myself, I was very sympathetic to this request! The Concerto was composed
mostly between Summer 1990 and January 1991, commissioned by the Concerto
Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia through the generous assistance of the
Presser Foundation. It was
premiered in November 1991 by Norman Spielberg with the Concerto Soloists, with
James Freeman as guest conductor. The
music is in three movements, played without pause.
for Contrabassoon is scored
for solo contra with 1 Clarinet, 1 Horn, and Strings.
In addition to the piano
reduction, the concerto is also available in a "Quartet Version" for
Contrabassoon, Clarinet, Horn, and Piano, with the piano playing a reduction of
the string section.
Concerto has been received very warmly
by the contrabassoon community and has been performed by ensembles ranging
from the Colorado Symphony to the Federal Police Orchestra of Argentina. The Concerto led the International Contrabassoon Festival to commission
my In A Deep Funk: Dance Set for
Unaccompanied Contrabassoon for its 1997 mandatory competition piece, and it
led Susan Nigro and Burl Lane to commission Sonatina d'Amore for two
Manufacturer Bernt Moosman fixing Roger
contrabassoon with Crazy Glue, just before Roger's
performance of the Dorff Concerto at
the 2010 IDRS convention.