In memory of Dr. Alfred Loeffler, Chairman of the Music Department at California State University, Chico and an accomplished composer, violist, and conductor.
There is a longstanding tradition among composers of paying tribute in music to departed colleagues. Verdi initially conceived his famous Requiem as an homage to another great Italian opera composer, Rossini, on the first anniversary of his death. The Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski wrote his beautiful Musique funèbre to honor the late Béla Bartók. And as far back as the Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez wrote a motet in honor of his teacher, Johannes Ockeghem, upon learning of the latter's passing, in 1497.
Mark J. Connor's Elegy is very much of this tradition. Connor wrote it in 2003, upon learning of the passing of Alfred Loeffler, his first composition teacher and longtime professor of music at California State University, Chico. The work features viola, Loeffler's own instrument, and two woodwinds that reflect, Connor explains, the very earliest works he wrote under Loeffler's guidance.
Connor states that he intended this brief, single-movement piece “to be reverently simple,” a quality apparent in both its melodic ideas and its harmonic palette. The piece opens with an introduction given over to an extended viola solo. The ensuing refrain and contrasting central episode bring the other two instruments into play. In the end, Connor observes, “the viola ascends, via harmonics, to the very top of its range, as if reaching towards the heavens.”
-Program notes by Paul Schiavo