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MP3 Matthew Edwards - Julian White Works for Solo Piano

Recorded live in recital, pianist Matthew Edwards conveys the astonishing range and eloquence of Julian White''s lyrical, numinous sound-world, from the ecstatic quietude of Meditations on Da Vinci to the kaleidoscopic hyper-virtuosity of his Five Etudes.

17 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Contemporary


Julian White died of heart failure on June 23rd, 2006 at his home in Kensington, California. He was 76. It was a great privilege and honor to have him as my mentor, teacher and friend. To grapple with the complexities and subtleties of his piano works was to know the man himself -- his expansive wit and depth of feeling; his irony and emotional sincerity; his transparent, child-like curiosity and his affinity for the elaborate and enigmatic. In both his life and work, he reflected the fullness and apparent contradictions of the Human Situation. He leaves behind many students, friends and colleagues who shall always cherish the memory of this unique artist and man. -- Matthew Edwards

“People don’t expect music to be a message; it’s entertainment and background for them. But the truth is it’s not background. The composer stays home and writes his music, and the music is like his diary. The heart tries to pour out a lot of its feelings." -- Julian White (From an interview in October of 2005)

”Exploring the Numinous: The Piano Works of Julian White

Does "serious" contemporary music have to be "difficult" or alienating?

Here is a new solo piano release that''s not just for experts or aficionados of new music; this disc is for anyone who truly believes that a complex, challenging musical style can also be accessible, exquisite and deeply moving. Here is music of great eloquence, addressing our common fears and anxieties while affirming our need for healing and transformation -- all in all, a profound demonstration of the idea of music as metaphor for the human condition.


The creator of these extraordinary compositions is Julian White, who for nearly half a century graced the San Francisco Bay Area with his remarkable gifts as pianist, composer and teacher. He was born in 1930 in Chicago and began composing at the age of six. His teachers in composition included Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Leonard Stein (assistant to Arnold Schoenberg). At Juilliard, he worked with Peter Mennin, Robert Starer and Sergius Kagen. Mr. White''s last teacher (described by White as "the healing teacher") was the legendary Egon Petri, whose own background was with Busoni, Liszt and Brahms. This illustrious lineage is perhaps most evident in White''s compositions, all of which reflect a once honored ethos: an unequivocal belief in the sacredness of musical expression, its ability to provide consolation and aid in our search for meaning. Mr. White was revered as a teacher. In 1965, he was named Master Teacher of the Year by the Music Teacher''s Association of California, and Esquire Magazine listed him as the Best Bay Area Piano Teacher in 1974. In addition to his many years of private studio teaching, Mr. White served on the faculties of several Bay Area Colleges and Universities. Under the sponsorship of the Association of Humanistic Psychology and the Jungian Society, he presented lectures and demonstrations on the connection between music and self-realization, and appeared on programs with Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly.

He died at his home in Kensington, California in the early morning of June 23rd, 2006. He was 76.

His major solo works include Penelopeana, Concerto without Orchestra, Eleven Preludes, Five Etudes, Portrait of an Inner Landscape, Piano Variations, Meditations on da Vinci and Elegy. Larger works include Montmorency Offertory (1989) for Soloist, Chorus and Orchestra, Five Parables for Chorus and Orchestra (1991) and Children''s Hour for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra (2001).

Here are some of Julian White''s own thoughts on his piano works.

An Informal Guide to My Piano Music

In the genre of solo piano works, unlike the realm of orchestral, chamber or vocal composition, I move closer to the idea of the Haiku, and distance myself from the Epic. I believe that the direct and succinct, while always intensely lyrical, is the basic guideline when dealing with an idiom that is primarily a limited one, though multi-faceted and multidimensional. I remove as much ballast as possible so that the musical statements and gestures are, in themselves, complete without the 18th and 19th century need for redundancy and reiteration. My hope and assumption is that the listener will actually hear and understand what takes place as it happens, and will not need the emotional reassurance that, if the mind wanders, the musical idea will repeat itself over and over until it is understood by default. I prepare to engage the listener''s sense from the very first notes.
This is not my intention when writing orchestral or chamber or vocal works. In these media, so many varied colors and textures are present. The listener needs a longer engagement with sound to absorb the complexities of gesture, pattern, movement and meaning.
The underpinning of all my work is the knowledge that all music is predominantly vocal. The essential line at any moment may not actually be singable, but it points in that direction. It is always the impulse to sing that dominates my intention. The actual dimensions and range of this vocal line determine the repose, the restriction, or the freedom of all expressiveness.

-Julian White

The pianist on this disc is Matthew Edwards, a San Francisco Bay Area native who spent his formative years under the pianistic guidance of Sharon Mann and Marta Bracchi-LeRoux. Though subsequent studies were largely self-directed, a brief period of coaching with Julian White proved crucial to his professional development and led to his interest in Mr. White''s unique compositions for piano. Early adult years included active military service and the teaching of secondary mathematics, but he soon happily left these to pursue the life of a free-lance pianist, and has since enjoyed a growing reputation as solo recitalist and chamber musician, appearing regularly in many Bay Area venues. He has appeared as soloist with the Contra Costa, Solano, and Tassajara Symphonies as well as Berkeley''s Bella Musica Orchestra and the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra. Mr. Edwards'' interest in contemporary music is reflected in his regular collaborations and solo engagements with many Bay Area groups, including Composers Inc., San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Santa Cruz New Music Works and the Stanford Woodwind Quintet. In addition to his free-lance work, Mr. Edwards is the pianist for the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and has for many years served as pianist and organist for St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Pacifica. He has worked with several Bay Area composers on the presentation and recording of new compositions and is featured with violinist Kees Hülsmann in a recent release -- Atlantic Crossing (Lapis Island) -- of the music of Peter Scott Lewis.


"Bringing a lithe, lyrical touch, Mr. Edwards gave a performance that combined technical mastery with graceful interpretive insight."
--The Contra Costa Times

"The Matthew Edwards piano recital last Sunday was far better than the Super Bowl. An uncommon sense of balance, both of sonority and structure, was present throughout. "
--John McCarthy
San Francisco Classical Voice

"...Edwards was in his element, dextrously carving out sonorities...He seemed to have entered a performer''s trance where the pieces emerged from the piano as if evoked...a magical blend of over-arching shape, fleetness and rhythmical propulsion."
-- James Charmichael
San Francisco Classical Voice


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