A cento is a poem comprised entirely of poems by other authors, and "Cento" is a musical representation of that concept:
the entire melodic content is derived from famous orchestral compositions.
One purpose of "Cento" is to draw attention to the way we subconciously remember music.
When I hear an unaccompanied melody, I tend to provide it with a harmony. Often, when I
finally hear a performance or recording of the piece, the harmony will be different than I had expected.
Other times, I will commit a piece to memory on short notice, and it will be in my head for months or years
when I have a chance to see the music again, and discover I have been playing an incorrect note or rhythm.
Other times, I will hear a performance with a mistake and find that I like that version better. I also frequently
play pieces in different keys to hear the difference.
One recurring motive in "Cento" is derived from the slow movement of Dvorak's 9th symphony,
which I first experienced in simplified form in a piano book. The book made a mistake and halved the rhythmic
durations of a certain passage. When I first encountered an orchestral recording of Dvorak 9, I immediately noticed
the disparity, but decided that I liked the pentatonic line better at twice the speed, which is how it occurs in "Cento".
The ascending runs at the end of the composition are a reference to "Kingfishers Catch Fire" by John Mackey:
after hearing that piece, I can't hear the ending of the Firebird any other way.
The melodies are quoted from the following compositions:
Rite of Spring: Stravinsky
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun: Debussy
Tristan und Isolde: Wagner
Don Juan: Strauss
Symphony #7: Beethoven
Symphony #9: Dvorak
Capriccio Espagnol: Rimsky-Korsakov
Pictures at an Exhibition: Mussorgsky/Ravel
The Firebird: Stravinsky
The Planets: Holst
Symphony #4: Tchaikovsky
Reading session by the UT Symphony Orchestra: Alejandro Gutierrez, conductor
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