In 1981, I had
recently joined the Haddonfield Symphony as bass clarinetist, where the Eb
clarinetist was Sherry Hartman-Apgar who was finishing a performance degree at
Temple University. Before long, Sherry invited me to write her a recital piece
for Eb clarinet with piano, which I was eager and ready to dive into.
about how to create a work uniquely in the spirit of the Eb clarinet, I happened
to see a magazine ad for a new line of Sony home stereo amplifiers claiming
their control knobs glide so smoothly that a mouse could turn them. The ad had a
photo of an adorable mouse standing up using the stereo.
At the same
time, I'd been thinking that the squeaky and melodramatic use of Eb clarinet in
Till Eulenspiegel was also a fun model to parody for the Eb clarinet as
quickly fused, bearing a programmatic excuse to write a recital piece with
strong influence from Led Zeppelin and Chuck Berry, about a mouse who goes to a dance
party, dances up a storm with various girl mice, until he finally keels over
gently ascending to heaven in the coda. I also hoped this could later be
animated in the brilliantly surreal style of Max and Dave Fleischer's cartoons
of the 1930s.
Introduction (m. 1): Mr. Mouse enters a dance club
and eyes a fashionably chic and glamorous girl mouse, full of superficial
Dance 1 (m. 9): They dance for awhile, and there is much flirting and
teasing, which leads only to increased flirting and teasing. Mr. Mouse is easily
Dance 2 (m. 50): ... a much more sophisticated lady (plucked whiskers)
interested only in imported cheeses, oldstyle swing music and dance, and the
spotlight. While off to fetch her brie, he is distracted by...
Dance 3 (m. 104): ... a sweet young thing, with big pink eyes and graceful
ears that tug at his heart. They fall in love instantly, and he croons a
romantic ballad. By the end of the song however,
she fades from his imagination, revealing that he's only hallucinated her
Mr. Mouse's Dance of Death (m. 150): A very charismatic bad-girl mouse
sees him dejected and lonely, picking him out as eager prey. She sweeps him off
his feet, exciting him into a choreographic frenzy. They lead each other into
wilder and wilder dancing until he keels over fatally, at which point his immortal parts
ascend peacefully into the mousie heavens.