Dr. Edward Green is an award-winning composer and music educator, as well as a prolific scholar in the field of music history. He currently sits on the faculties of both the Manhattan School of Music and the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. He has received numerous awards for his work.
He provides his own extensive notes, plus some additional biography, for his 1999 orchestral suite, Music for Shakespeare:
This suite grew out of incidental music Dr. Green had originally written to accompany Shakespearian productions by the Aesthetic Realism Theater Company—and throughout the writing of this music, he explained, he was inspired by this principle of Aesthetic Realism, which he learned from the great American philosopher Eli Siegel: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
A key pair of opposites is old and new; in this music, the composer has said, he wanted to be true to both the Elizabethan spirit and the music of our own times. With melody always in the forefront, the suite evokes the dances of Shakespeare’s day, and the rhythms of our own. As a result, the style is both heartfelt and surprising: serious, yet filled with warmth, charm, humor.
“Love Music” is the title to the opening movement, and its long-arched melody is in the bright tonality of E Lydian. “When I wrote this melody,” the composer has said, “I had in mind Shakespeare’s heroines and also my wife, the actress Carrie Wilson. In fact, I wrote this melody immediately after seeing her in the role of Desdemona with the Aesthetic Realism Theater Company.”
The second movement is in five parts: a complete “Dance Suite” unto itself. It begins with an Elizabethan “Gigue”—only written not in the traditional 12/8 meter, but in a modernistic 11/8—which gives it delightful irregularity. It is followed by an “Air,” and then three dances which flow into each other: a “Galliard”—depicting some of Shakespeare’s more comic (and slightly drunken) characters, such as Sir Toby Belch—a “Pavane,” and then a “Rigadoon,” which is written in rousing five-bar phrases.
Music for Shakespeare is perhaps Edward Green’s most frequently performed orchestral work. But hardly his only one—for orchestras across the US and also in England, Russia, Argentina, Australia, the Czech Republic and several other countries have also performed such works as his Piano, Trumpet and Saxophone concertos, all three of which have appeared on commercial CDs. He has also written much chamber and choral music, and a Symphony for Band, which was jointly commissioned by a consortium of thirteen of America’s leading concert wind ensembles. He is currently at work on a ballet based on Milton’s Paradise Lost, and on a symphony commissioned by the Catskill Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to his creative activities—which likewise includes work as a film composer in collaboration with the Emmy Award-winning director Ken Kimmelman—Edward Green is also an active music educator. He teaches at Manhattan School of Music, where he is a professor in the departments of Composition, Music History, and Jazz, and also at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Trained in Ohio (Oberlin Conservatory) and New York (NYU), he has appeared as a guest composer and lecturer throughout Europe and both North and South America. He is editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington, and was editor of China and the West: The Birth of a New Music (Shanghai Conservatory Press).
Among his many professional honors is the Zoltan Kodaly Composers’ Award, and a 2009 Grammy nomination for his Piano Concertino (Best Contemporary Classical Composition). He also was the recipient, in 2004, of the highly sought-after Music Alive! Award from the American Symphony Orchestra League.
In putting together the wind band version of Music for Shakespeare, I retained the opening “Love Music” as a separate movement and split the second “Dance Suite” movement into its five component dances: “Gigue”, “Air”, “Galliard”, “Pavane”, and “Rigadoon”, of which the last three run together attacca. I made several key adjustments, so that the “Love Music” is now in E-flat rather than E, and the final four movements are down a whole step from where they began, putting them in more wind-friendly keys. I also rebarred the “Gigue” from 11/8 to a mix of 5/8 and 6/8, making it easier for players (and hopefully conductors) to interpret the length of each beat. At every step, I was in contact with Dr. Green, who approved all of the changes and endorsed the final product.
Listen to a MIDI mock-up below. Feel free, also, to read along in the score (.pdf):
Here is the Arizona State University Concert Band performing the first movement, “Love Music”, on March 1, 2014. Please excuse the trumpet-heavy mix, owing to the camera placement:
As Green said, the orchestral version has been performed around the world. The band version will have its first partial airing by the Arizona State University Concert Band on Saturday, March 1 on the ASU campus. Anyone else who is interested performing it should contact me: misterpease “at” gmail.com.
Dr. Green has an extensive website that includes his full biography. I recommend exploring the site a good deal. His scholarly articles are probing and very accessible. The site also has mp3s of several of his compositions, including this recording of the orchestral Music for Shakespeare (scroll to the bottom to find it). These are very much worth a listen as window into his style.
Dr. Green’s faculty page at the Manhattan School of Music.
His faculty page at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.