Non Sequitur Music

Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano

Composer: James Aikman
Instrumentation: Violin and Piano
Year Composed: 2002
Duration: 19 minutes
Cost: Purchase: $40.00

I. Prologue
II. Sonata quasi una fantasia
III. Toccata

Premiere Performance:
Written for and premiered by Alexander Kerr, Concertmaster of The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and by pianist Lisa Leonard during the Linton Chamber Music Series in Cincinnati Ohio, February 17-18, 2002. First broadcast on Radio Andante from the classical music website,, June 1, 2002

Program Notes:

Composers writing music for classical musicians in this technological age are faced with many stiff challenges, but one in particular strikes me: how to defend charges - sometimes my own - of being an anachronism. "Why write music for instrumentalists who already have a wealth of repertoire from which to draw?" "This type of music reaches such a slight slice of humanity. How do you justify wishing to add to this perceived museum of the elite?" Or more overtly, "why don't you write something I can sing in the shower?" Webster defines anachronism as "a person or thing that is chronologically out of place; especially: one from a former age that is incongrous in the present." Classical music in the technological age can be accused of this if it does not continue to be influenced by the present. I believe a certain sense of providential care enters when one has such friends as Alex Kerr, without whom this work would not have been written.

The short Prologue involves powerful raw intensity and exact - nearly mechanical - rhythmic precision. The second movement presents a music of shifting moods and wide-ranging characters. A musical world is created in which themes are passed from violin to piano and back. This interplay is all cast within a fantasia-like setting. (The title, Sonata quasi una fantasia, is borrowed from Beethoven.) Though sections recur and materials are developed, the form itself is simply that which the music designated as the composing process ensued. Yet the polarity and drama inherent in sonata form is there. Sturm und drang! If that is anachronistic, so be it. The third movement is a rocketship toccata based on a fragment of a musical line from the band, Yes. The final bars return us to the Prologue, though this time much slower, broader and more forcefully to close the work as a whole.

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