Amadeus ex Machina (2001)

c. 10:00

1 Flute (dbl Picc)
2 Oboes
2 Clarinets in Bb
1 Bassoon
1 Contrabassoon
2 Horns in F

Amadeus ex machina is a whimsical re-imagining of Mozart’s 40th symphony from the perspective of a sophisticated – but somewhat disoriented – machine. Themes are mixed and matched in odd combinations, key centers are skewed in unexpected directions, and the entire composition is condensed into a ten-minute soundbite. The resulting work can be experienced in a number of ways – as a study of contemporary society’s relationship with its cultural heritage, as a commentary on the interaction of art and technology, or simply as an affectionate spoof of one of the greatest compositions in the Classical canon.

The title comes from the deus ex machina – literally, “god from a machine” – a theatrical device in ancient Greece whereby a god was lowered to the stage in a crane to resolve seemingly hopeless plot complications. In our own time, though we continually face fresh challenges to our sense of hope, the music of Mozart and the work of passionate advocates for the arts can present us with unexpected resolutions – or at least sources of rejuvenation that make our crises a little easier to bear.

Amadeus ex machina was commissioned by the Carolina Chamber Symphony to commemorate its tenth anniversary under founding Music Director Robert Franz. It was premiered at Wake Forest University on May 3, 2002. The work was a awarded a special commendation by the 2003 Masterprize panel in London, and was chosen as contemporary competition piece for the 2002 Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition in Kharkov, Ukraine. It received its Russian premiere on March 20th, 2005 by the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic.