Chamber Music for audiences of any age by Bruce Adolphe

Bruce AdolpheBruce Adolphe is not only a celebrated composer, but also an author, innovative educator, and a versatile performer. His profound creativity is apparent from the many positions he has held, from resident lecturer and director of family concerts for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, to founding creative director of The Learning Maestros, and comic keyboard quiz-master of the weekly radio program Piano Puzzlers. As a composer, Adolphe has written works for many of the world’s most renowned artists. Among his best works are numerous compositions that are favorites with kids and family concerts, many of them written specifically for these audiences. We’ve compiled this list of selections from his instrumental and chamber works we think you’ll both enjoy and hopefully find helpful in planning your next concert for kids of any age!

Bird Songs (13′)
Soprano, Flute, Violin, Piano
Includes four songs set to anonymous poems. Movements: Introduction, A Merry Bird, Poor Thing, Magpie, and “Cuckoo, What Do You Do?”. Composed for the Itzhak Perlman Family Quartet.

Bitter, Sour, Salt Suite (24′)
Violin Solo, Optional Narrator
The project to pay musical and poetic tribute to food was hatched by Itzhak Perlman and the composer during discussions and while eating and sometimes drinking. The result was this delectable piece about food for violin with narrator (can be the same performer). Poems by Louise Gikow.

City Sounds (4′)
A short piano piece with audience participation composed especially for a children’s concert with Orli Shaham. Premiered March 20, 2011 at Le Poisson Rouge.

119312Coyote Scatters the Stars (7′)

Violin, Piano (optional speaker)
Commissioned by the Museum of Mathematics in New York for its grand opening gala benefit, the music is based on a Native American story. The violin portrays Coyote and the piano represents everything else, especially the stars themselves. It is recommended that the story which is included with the music be told to the audience before the work is performed to enhance the enjoyment and comprehension of the piece.

Drumming a Dream (40′)
Narrator, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Percussion (1 player)
This Indian folk tale is about a girl named Kalpana’s adventures as she searches for the talking drum that has spoken to her in dreams. The script by Bruce Adolphe and Preeti Vasudevan captures the wonder of the story, weaving in sounds of the drum with audience participation. Indian folk dance is featured throughout with Choreography by Preeti Vasudevan.
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Farmony (5′)
String Quartet with kids’ audience participation
A short interactive string quartet especially for youth concerts where kids in the audience pretend to be farm animals. Written for Sharon Roffman and the Stone Barns Quartet.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (18′)
Narrator, Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano Commissioned/ recorded by An die Musik with Dr. Ruth Westheimer narrating the composer’s witty and modern take on a classic fairy tale.

BW web coverInto a Cloud (5′)
Oboe, Piano, Optional Narrator
A brief fable with optional narration from The Learning Maestros catalog about a teenage boy named Lan Tsai Ho whose character is portrayed by the oboist.


Little Red Riding Hood (15′)
Narrator, Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano
Commissioned/ recorded by An die Musik with Dr. Ruth Westheimer narrating the composer’s witty and modern take on a classic fairy tale.

Marita and Her Heart’s Desire: A Chamber Music Fairy Tale (22′)
Actress (Narrator with multiple Voices), Piccolo, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trombone, Perc(1), Harp, 2 Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass
A charming story of a young girl who goes searching for her heart’s desire, which only the moon atop Harper’s department store can unveil to her. With enchanting music and a story by a writer for the Muppets and Sesame Street, Marita’s a pure delight.
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OceanophonyFrontcoverwebOceanophony for Chamber Ensemble (35′)
Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Cello, Bass, Piano, Percussion. Slideshow available.
Plunge into an ocean of music and meet the sarcastic fringehead fish, stoplight parrotfish, a love-struck seahorse, and more. Also available for chamber orchestra.
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The Amazing Adventure of Alvin Allegretto (50′)
Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Bass-Baritone, Boy Soprano Soli: Clarinet, Perc(1), Cello, Piano.
In the town of Harmony, everybody sings…everybody, that is, except Alvin Allegretto. His parents take him to see one expert after another to find a cure for his strange condition but only Alvin, with the help of the audience, can find the answer. Music and story by Bruce Adolphe; libretto by Sarah Schlesinger. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
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The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses (25′)
Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano, Percussion, Children’s Voices, Narrator. Slideshow in development.
Pulsating drums, evocative melodies, and the haunting sounds of a children’s chorus bring to life this beautiful Native American story with text by Paul Goble. Commissioned by Boston Musica Viva, Richard Pittman, Conductor.
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Time Flies (19′)
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, 1 Percussion, Harp, Violin 1 solo, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Double Bass
Artist Eric Rohmann’s Caldecott Honor-winning picture book comes to life through a magical musical score that portrays a little bird caught in a dinosaur exhibit of a natural history museum. Commissioned by the 15th annual Chicago Humanities Festival and premiered by Fulcrum Point New Music Project.
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ToughTurkeyCdPicTough Turkey in the Big City (30′)
Clarinet, Trumpet, Bass Trombone, Piano, Violin, Percussion, Narrator
A charming and funny Thanksgiving tale featuring the bass trombone as the protagonist, Tom the Turkey.
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Urban Scenes (12′)
String Quartet
An interactive work. Kids play toy bird calls, car horns, and an alarm clock.

Witches, Wizards, Spells and Elves: The Magic of Shakespeare (36′)
4 Actors (3 Female, 1 Male), Perc(1): Str (
Experience the magic and sorcery in Shakespeare’s plays as solo instruments portray the main characters in this enchanting work. May be enhanced by actors introducing the movements with scenes from the corresponding plays.
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Zephyronia (30′)
Narrator, Woodwind Quintet
On the distant planet Zephyronia, wind power is the solution when Flora and Flutter teach the emperor that there is more than one way to run a planet. Story by Louise Gikow. Commissioned by EverPower with additional funding from the La Jolla Music Society.
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Adolphe “Einstein’s Light” and Spring Update

FollowinEinstein's Light front coverg the release of Imaginary Films’ documentary motion picture by Nicholas Barris Einstein’s Light in November 2015, the world premiere of Bruce Adolphe’s score took place on 11/25/2015 in Amsterdam.  Keiser Classical is releasing this month the exclusive violin and piano edition, with bowings and fingerings by Joshua Bell. For more information on the new issue, please write to us.

Einstein was a violinist all his life. In the motion picture “Einstein’s Light”, filmmaker Nickolas Barris and composer Bruce Adolphe set out to communicate Einstein’s dedication to the violin and his particular love for the music of Mozart and Bach.

This collection of music composed for the soundtrack is based on phrases from those two great masters that spin off into physics-inspired dreams and thoughts. It contains a poignant solo violin piece based on music by Bach and four pieces for violin and piano that are based on phrases from Mozart’s music. The composer includes one work in particular, the Mozart Violin Sonata K. 378, notable because the only extant recording of Einstein playing the violin contains the slow movement from this sonata. The soundtrack to “Einstein’s Light” was recorded by Joshua Bell and Marija Stroke on Sony Classical Records.

Additional recent and future performances of include: Off The Hook Arts in Colorado on 2/13/2016, 2/14/2016, and 2/16/2016, where violinist Clara Lyon played the first two dates, Emily Ondracek-Peterson (seen here playing “Einstein’s Light” courtesy of Colorado Public Radio) performed the third, and composer Bruce Adolphe accompanied on piano for all three.  The New York premiere is presented by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and will take place in Alice Tully Hall on 2/28/2016 in a program dedicated to introducing Einstein’s love of Mozart’s music to children and families.  And a performance will take place at the Museum of Mathematics in New York on 9/14/2016, featuring Mark Steinberg on violin and Marija Stroke on piano.  Available from Keiser Classical in mid-March; email us for details.

Bruce Adolphe is currently composing an opera in collaboration with the novelist Richard Powers, author of Orfeo and The Time of Our Singing, among many other novels. Scenes from the opera, called “The Origin”, will be previewed at the Off the Hook Arts Festival in Colorado in June, 2016, featuring soprano Christie Conover and tenor Joseph Gaines.

Bruce Adolphe has recently composed a work commissioned by violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv. The piece, called “Fantasia Krushelnytska”, is inspired by the life of Solomiya Krushelnytska, the great Ukrainian soprano whose career was cut short by the Soviet occupation.

Adolphe’s Suite for Pete, a solo guitar work in four movements dedicated to the memory of Pete Seeger and inspired by his work in civil rights, will be premiered by Eliot Fisk at the Off the Hook Arts Festival in Colorado in June 2016.

Bruce recently teamed up with Kal, the political cartoonist of The Economist and Baltimore Sun, for a series of improvisational interactions between Tunes and Cartoons, featuring Kal’s drawings and Bruce’s piano puzzlers, as well as spontaneous simultaneous improvisations based on audience suggestions. This took place in Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado, in January, 2016.  Piano Puzzlers is available through Keiser Classical.

The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra performed both Tough Turkey in the Big City and Red Dogs and Pink Skies in the middle of last November, 2015.  Contact our rental department to inquire after performance materials.

Bruce Adolphe Celebrates 60 with Preview of Film Score and “Chopin Dreams”

Einstein's Light

Click for preview of the film with performance by Joshua Bell

On May 29, 2015 APM Radio show “Performance Today“, hosted by Fred Child and longtime home of Bruce Adolphe’s Piano Puzzler, celebrated the composer’s 60th birthday. The broadcast kicked off with an introduction to Polly Rhythm the parrot, which Adolphe fondly refers to as his “walking, talking, flying 10th birthday present.”   That was followed by a feature solo performance by violinist Joshua Bell of Adolphe’s J.S. Bach inspired Einstein’s Saraband: The Loneliness of Genius. Emily Ondracek-Peterson’s moving performance of this work can be heard in this video by Colorado Public Radio. The Saraband is one of five movements of a larger work to be included in Imaginary Film’s documentary motion picture by Nicholas Barris Einstein’s Light, soundtrack to be released on Sony Records this November. We are proud to announce that Keiser Classical will publish the performance edition later this season; email us for more details. The world concert premiere will take place in Amsterdam on 11/25/15, Joshua Bell as soloist.

Bruce Adolphe’s Chopin Dreams, a 25-minute solo piano work in which Adolphe imagines Chopin living and composing in New York today, was given its world premiere by the Italian pianist Carlo Grante in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, on September 15th, 2015. Rorianne Schrade of the New York Concert Review wrote, “the work is brimming with all the poetry and virtuosity one would hope for in a work inspired by the great Frédéric Chopin, but its tonal language is deliciously modern.” Read full review. Grante will play the European premiere in the Brahms-saal of the Musikverein in Vienna, on November 26th, 2015.  The work is in six movements: New York Nocturne; Jazzurka; Piano Popping; Brooklyn Ballad; Quaalude; and Hora. For more information write to Keiser Classical.

2015 Birthdays and Anniversaries

BalloonsComposer milestone dates we honor and celebrate this year include~

Bruce Adolphe’s 60th birthday Jun. 1

Donald Crockett’s 60th birthday Apr. 1

Robert Dick’s 65th birthday Jan. 4

Bernhard Heiden’s 15th anniversary of death Apr. 30

Michael Schelle’s 65th birthday Jan. 22

David Schiff’s 70th birthday Aug. 30

Judith Lang Zaimont’s 70th birthday Nov. 8

Bruce Adolphe 2015-16 Performance Highlights

Composer Bruce Adolphe

Bruce Adolphe’s violin concerto inspired by the legacy of Joachim Prinz, I Will Not Remain Silent, will receive its European Premiere in Lucerne, Switzerland on April 29, 2015. The Human Rights Orchestra (co-commission with IRIS/ Michael Stern), conducted by Alessio Allegrini
gives the performance featuring violinist Ilya Gringolts.

From June 15 to 29, 2015, the Off the Hook Festival in Colorado presents performances in Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver of several works by Bruce Adolphe, including Whispers of Mortality (string quartet no 4) and Fra(nz)g-mentation both played by the Miami String Quartet; and Self Comes to Mind for cello and two percussionists featuring cellist Bion Tsang.

July 10, 2016 Fabio Luisi conducts the world premiere of Bruce Adolphe’s Piano Concerto with Carlo Grante, soloist, and the Zürich Philharmonia at the Zürich Opera House.

Bruce Adolphe “off the hook” again

Off the Hook logoThis summer, Bruce Adolphe is once again co-artistic director of Off the Hook, a festival in Fort Collins, Colorado, with co-director Jephta Bernstein. Two of Adolphe’s works are on the schedule this June: Tough Turkey in the Big City and The Bridgehampton Concerto. Both works available through Keiser Classical. He is also giving talks and conducting improvisation workshops based on his book The Mind’s Ear as part of the Festival.

In July, the Cassatt String Quartet will perform Adolphe’s Mary Cassatt: Scenes from her Life in several towns in Maine as part of the Salt Bay Festival. That quartet will also be featured in the Mohawk Trail Concerts in July. The Bridgehampton Music Festival has released a CD celebrating their 30th anniversary, and the CD includes Adolphe’s Bridgehampton Concerto, which was commissioned by the Festival in 1991.

Other recent publications of Bruce Adolphe’s music include:

Bridgehampton Concerto (1991) 17′

Flute, Oboe, Harpsichord, 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, Bass

This fun and playable Baroque-inflected concerto grosso was originally commissioned by the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. Scored for mixed octet of flute, oboe, harpsichord and string quintet. Total length approx. 17 minutes.

Mary Cassatt: Scenes from Her Life (2013)

Based on the life and paintings of the American Impressionist Mary Cassatt. Premiered by the Cassatt Quartet in 2013.

My Inner Brahms: An Intermezzo (2013) 5′

Piano Solo

A brief intermezzo dedicated to and premiered by pianist Orli Shaham.

Obedient Choir of Emotions (2012) 5′

SATB, Piano

Commissioned by the New York Virtuoso Singers, Harold Rosenbaum, the text comes from the work of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. Recorded on Soundbrush Records.

The End of Tonight (instrumental score and parts) (2013)

2 Mezzo Soprano, Alto, 3 Cello, Piano

A three-movement trio for three female voices with chamber ensemble, “The End of Tonight” was commissioned by Lenore Fishman Davis. Song texts are from the poems “Listen, Tonight” and “Of the End” by Nathalie Handal. The scoring calls for two mezzo-sopranos and one alto with instrumental accompaniment by three cellos and piano. Includes a full score for the pianist and cello parts. Full score for vocalists available separately.


For more information, please contact Keiser Classical.

Bruce Adolphe Highlights Spring 2014

Composer Bruce AdolpheThe Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performed Bruce Adolphe’s Do You Dream in Color? for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, featuring mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, who also wrote the text, which is about her experiences as a blind person. The performances were in October, 2013.

The Cassatt String Quartet premiered Bruce Adolphe’s Mary Cassatt: Scenes from Her Life at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas and then the following week at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton. The piece was commissioned by the University of Central Arkansas, where Mr. Adolphe has a residency this season.

On May 17th, 2014, Bruce Adolphe’s The End of Tonight will receive its world premiere at the Greene Space in New York. The work, settings of poetry by Nathalie Handal, is scored for three mezzo-sopranos, three cellos, and piano. It was commissioned by Lenore Fishman Davis.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is releasing a new download on the live concert recordings series of Bruce Adolphe’s Self Comes to Mind for cello and two percussionists. The concert was performed in November, 2012, featuring cellist Efe Baltacigil and percussionists Ayano Kataoka and Ian David Rosenbaum.

Contact Keiser Classical for more information on Bruce Adolphe’s music.