Music by

PROGRAM NOTES by the composer

Dance Music for Mr. Mouse
A Cartoon Ballet for Eb Clarinet and Piano (and optional animation)

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.

While daydreaming 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 protagonist.

These ideas 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 fatally, 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.

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Introduction (m. 1): Mr. Mouse enters a dance club and eyes a fashionably chic and glamorous girl mouse, full of superficial sizzle.

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 distracted by...

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 fantasized existence.

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.

last updated February 20, 2020