Fanfare for a Remarkable Friend (2016)
Fanfare for a Friend:
In Honor of Maestro Peter Jaffe
By Chris Brubeck
Peter Jaffe is a marvelous musician and despite his abundant knowledge of Classical music, he has an expansive appreciation and knowledge of many musical genres. His enthusiasm for music is infectious and we have enjoyed many joyful collaborations over the years with The Stockton Symphony Orchestra. I initially met Maestro Jaffe through my father, Dave Brubeck, who told me that Peter was an extremely talented and cheerful conductor whose company I would really enjoy. As with many things, my father was right in his assessment!
I was very deeply honored that the Stockton Symphony Board thought of me as a composer when the idea of saluting Maestro Jaffe with a new piece came up. Little themes for this musical tribute immediately began to dance in my head. Since Peter was a great friend of both me and my father, my first musical thought was to employ a compositional technique that my father had grown fond of in his later years. He liked to look for the inherent rhythm in someone’s name and use that as the “rhythmic cell” for the piece. For example An-ge-la Lans-bur-y implies two triplets and a 6/8 time signature. Whereas Pe-ter Jaf-fe implies a four note figure. Therefore this piece starts off with a series of orchestral pyramid chords proclaiming “Pe-ter Jaf-fe, Pe-ter Jaf-fe.” Since the Board asked me to compose a work that would celebrate his 20 years as the Stockton Symphony music director and conductor, I thought I’d start with the feeling of a Fanfare and an orchestral salute. Peter’s tastes are vast and eclectic so as an inside joke I threw in a fleeting Bach-like passage before quickly returning to the musical language of the opening. In several key places throughout this composition I also insert a stabbing chord (one of Peter’s favorites which is a collection of notes that are harmonically both major and minor chords sounding simultaneously.) This kind of chord was used in a revolutionary way by Stravinsky in the Classical world and by Dave Brubeck as a modern Jazz innovation.
Also, there is a fugue-like section that is again based on the “Peter Jaffe” rhythmic cell. With another “inside” nod, it starts on my instrument, the bass trombone, and the theme is tossed around the orchestra in fugue-like imitation. After a couple of minutes of continuing this playful repartee the tuba, contra bassoon, cellos and basses play the Jaffe theme at half speed as the upper voices go rolling along at their original clip. I know this is the kind of internal musical architecture that Peter really enjoys.
The middle of the piece has a romantic theme which I wrote as a salute to Peter’s lovely wife, Jane. As they say “behind every great man, there is a great woman,” and Jane and Peter enjoy a terrific partnership. Between them they are a four-legged, two-brained walking encyclopedia of musical knowledge and over the years I have called them many times seeking answers. They actually admire creative and skillfully played rock music as well; so I introduced a Blues Shuffle/ Boogie Woogie ostinato (Pe-ter Jaf-fe, Pe-ter Jaf-fe in a repeating 6/8 feel) near the end of the piece which “Rock and Rolls” along while the brass interjects the Stravinsky chord above it. Echoing Classical structures, there is a recapitulation of the introduction, only this time compressed to build more energy towards the ending. Peter Jaffe is such an energetic conductor that there was no doubt in my mind that this piece written in his honor had to include a compelling finale.
I hope you enjoy listening to this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it. I have played with many great orchestras and conductors all over the world. I want you to know that in my opinion the citizens of Stockton are extremely fortunate and blessed to have a man of Peter Jaffe’s abilities and character leading one of the most important organizations in their community for the last 20 years. This is my sincere musical tribute to a marvelous musician, great friend and innovative thinker with a very big heart. I think the ideas expressed in this piece beat the heck out of me giving a long speech praising his many achievements. Bravo Maestro Jaffe! May your days continue to be filled with joyful music!
– Chris Brubeck
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Composer Chris Brubeck Honors Conductor Peter Jaffe With New Work