Lewis Krauthamer, composer


Selected works / Downloads

B i o

Intro to my musical style


L i n k s

contact: lewis.krauthamer@yahoo.com

Selected works / Downloads

Chamber Symphony for 19-piece orchestra and voice (2017-2021)
I began this piece in July, 2017, originally projecting two-movements for smaller ensemble. Through time, the piece grew in duration and ensemble size, eventually taking the form of a symphony. The broad narrative trajectory of the four movements may be summed up as follows: private/inward unrest (I. Fugue), outward eruption/upheaval (II. Storm), transcendence in disembodied spirit (III. Nocturne), and finally, transcendence in selfless love (IV. Aria). In this last movement, the storm has passed, the wind has subsided – dawn is yet to come. The words are taken from a traditional Salvadoran lullaby:

Text and translation (mvt. IV)
Dormite, niñito,
no llores chiquito,
Vendrán angelitos,
las sombras de la noche.
Dormite, niñito,

Rayitos de luna,
rayitos de plata,
Alumbran a mi niño,
que está en la cuna.

Rayitos del sol,
cielo azul,
Dejan de dormir,
empiezan a vivir.

Dormite, niñito,
con ojos diamantes,
Estrellas brillantes,
florido el cielo.
Sleep, little child,
don’t cry, little boy,
Little angels will come,
the shadows of the night.
Sleep, little child,

Rays of the moon,
rays of silver,
Illuminate my child,
who’s in the cradle.

Rays of the sun,
blue sky,
They sleep no longer,
they begin to live.

Sleep, little child,
with diamond eyes,
Shining stars,
blossom of heaven
As heard on Smithsonian Folkways’ “Lullabies of the World,” © 2004/1963 (Folkways Records)
Adapted/translated by the composer

Youtube video (total 34'53")

The score in pdf format (114 pages)
[2.21 MB, 1 pdf file]

Recording in mp3 format (total 33'53")
[64.42 MB, 1 zip file containing 4 mp3 files, 320 kbps]

Flute 1 (flute/piccolo), Flute 2 (flute/alto flute): Carrie Rose
Oboe/English Horn: William Wielgus
Clarinet: Laura Armstrong
Bassoon: Brad Balliett
Contrabassoon: Maya Stone
French Horn: David Byrd-Marrow
Percussion 1, Percussion 2: Emory Hensley
Trickeyboard 1, Trickeyboard 2, Mandolin, Guitar 1 (guitar/lap steel), Guitar 2: Lewis Krauthamer
Violin 1, Violin 2: Gina Bordini
Viola: Clara Qiyun (mvt. 1), Rohan Joshi (mvt. 2, 3, 4)
Cello: Mary Ann Ramos
Double Bass: Matt Peralta
Voice: Dinys Ortíz

Audio mixing/editing: Lewis Krauthamer
Audio consultant: Tyler Futrell

Two Pieces for double bass and slide guitar (2018-2019)

The first movement was composed in December 2018 in the course of only three days – it is written in a flexible variations form (with a hint of asymmetric arch form). The second movement, composed December 2018 to February 2019, is a two voice fugue. Both the subject and the inverted subject are heard in the bass part at three transpositional levels; I designed the subject in such a way that all six statements are playable in a single hand position (bassists call it third position).

The world premiere took place at the University of the District of Columbia as part of Off the Beaten Path Music Series (OBPMS) on October 12th, 2019.
The piece is dedicated to poet/bassist Zachary Crabtree, a longtime friend.

Youtube video (total 11'49")

The score in pdf format (19 pages)
[0.78 MB, 1 pdf file]

Two Virginian Ballads on Themes of Human Sedulity
for solo guitar (2016-2017)

I. “Colonel Lightfoot and the Devil at Dancing Point”

According to Virginian folklore (and L.B. Taylor, Jr., whose book The Ghosts of Williamsburg recounts the story), there is a plot of land along the James River that was laid claim to by both the Devil and Colonel Philip Lightfoot (who was a real person). To resolve the dispute, they agreed to a dancing contest one night around a flickering fire. In short, Colonel Lightfoot ultimately proved worthy of his name, and by dawn the Devil conceded the plot of land which is now known as Dancing Point.

II. “The Rose and the Briar”

‘Twas in the early month of May,
When green buds were a-swelling,
Sweet Jimmie Grove on his deathbed lay,
For the love of Barbara Allen.

She hadn’t gone more than a mile from the place
Till she heard his death-bell ringing;
Nor had she gone more than five miles from the place,
Till she saw his corpse a-coming.
“Oh, lay him in the cold, cold clay
And let me look upon him!
O mother dear, you caused all this;
You would not let me have him.
“And father, father dig my grave,
And dig it deep and narrow.
Sweet Jimmie dies for me today,
I’ll die for him tomorrow.”
Sweet Jimmie was buried in the South Church yard,
And Barbara in the other.
A rose bush sprang from one of their breasts,
A briar from the other.
They grew, they grew, till they reached the church top.
They grew till they couldn’t grow higher.
They grew and tied a true love-knot,
The rose wrapped round the briar.

As sung by Mrs. E.W. Hale of Pembroke, VA, March 16, 1914; printed in Davis, Arthur Kyle: Traditional Ballads of Virginia (Harvard University Press, 1929), p. 320-321.

Youtube video (total 26'40")

The score in pdf format (51 pages)
[2.87 MB, 1 pdf file]

Four Virginian Ballads on Themes of Human Weakness
for solo guitar (2014)
with optional incorporation of spoken text by Combor

The poetry included is by a French poet known only as Combor. After I completed the music to this piece, I was struck with the idea of approaching my long-lost poet friend from France to see whether he would be interested in composing poetry to accompany my composition. After months of searching for a way to contact him, I finally tracked him down, and he welcomed my invitation. The parameters I gave him were quite simple; I gave him the gist of the images and stories that inspired each piece. I also sent the musical recording; though he expressed no interest in knowing about the music, and I suspect he never gave it a listen. Through this process, he and I interacted very little.

This work incorporates songs and subjects derived from Virginian popular folklore. In preparing it, I have borrowed material from the following places:

Thomas E. Barden (ed.), Virginia Folk Legends (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1991).

Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr. (ed.), Traditional Ballads of Virginia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929).

Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr. (ed.), More Traditional Ballads of Virginia (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1960).

“Virginia Traditions”: Nine albums of music collected in Virginia, originally issued between 1978 and 1988 by the Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College, now available through Smithsonian Folkways.

I. “The Two Sisters”

    Two loving sisters walked to the salt sea brim
    --Oh, the wind and rain
    One pushed the other in to the waters waters deep
    --and she cried a dreadful wind and rain…

Each of these pieces deals with one form or another of human weakness. What is dealt with in this first piece is Jealousy. Two sisters are in love with the same man – one pushes the other into the sea to drown. She then floats or swims to a milldam, where she is fished out, and (in some versions of the song) her bones and hair are fashioned into a magic fiddle that, when played, is made to recount the tragic tale.

II. “Pretty Polly and the Elf Knight”
    She jumped upon the bonny, bonny brown,
    And he the piebald bay,
    And rode along by the broad water side…

The subject dealt with here is Treachery. An evil Elf Knight seduces a woman and the two ride together to a secluded spot near the waterside where he has previously drowned other young maids. The tables turn, however, as the woman, strong and courageous, seizes the Elf-Knight and throws him into the water instead. The woman’s pet, a meddlesome parrot named Polly, also forms part of this ballad. Since in most versions the woman and the parrot share the same name (Polly), it is not always easy to distinguish between the two. The music of this piece is forward moving – the two lovers ride side-by-side, Polly with her loving optimism, the Elf-Knight with evil designs. The music is pervaded by Parrot clucks and caws.  

III. “The Mermaid”
    'T was Friday morn when we set sail, and we were not far from the land,
    When the captain spied a mermaid fair with a comb and a glass in her hand.
    Oh, the ocean waves they roll, and the stormy winds they blow…

What concerns us in “The Mermaid” is that most basic and primitive form of human weakness – Fear. In maritime folklore, a mermaid sighting is considered a dark omen, boding rough and dangerous weather ahead.

IV. “A Performing Artist Meets his Spirit Dog”

There stood a big, black dog. It had eyes as big as saucers, and they looked like balls of fire.

The final piece of this collection, dealing with Vanity, is the only one of these not directly linked to a traditional song or ballad theme. The “Spirit Dog” is a supernatural creature that finds its way into many folk-tales from Virginia and elsewhere. They are often said to appear before a dying person’s bed. Why they are there is not always clear – perhaps they are an indication of the person’s past wicked deeds, perhaps they serve as some mysterious kind of warning – or perhaps they appear more simply as a mere omen of death. In composing this piece I conceived of a meeting between one of these little devil dogs and a performing artist (whether a singer, dancer, drummer, guitarist, etc. is irrelevant). Having led a life of vanity, pettiness, self-involvement, self-promotion, he is suddenly faced with the reality of death. Moments of quiet and solitude alternate with moments of bargaining, where the artist attempts to “audition” for a way out of his predicament.

Youtube video (total 17'35") with English translation of French poetry

The score in pdf format (25 pages)
[9.95 MB, 1 pdf file]

Train Journey Fragments
for solo guitar and mixed ensemble (2010/2014)

This work was originally composed in 2009-2010 for guitar solo, premiered by Yovianna Garcia as part of the New Music Hartford series on September 18, 2010. About a year later, I re-worked the piece for guitar trio and gave it a new title, 900 Miles. This version received its premier by the Mobius Trio on September 23, 2011 as part of the Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival in Oakland, CA. I have disowned the latter version for its musical shortcomings, and I am not completely happy with the former (unaccompanied solo) version. When I was invited more recently to present my music with a group of young composers called the Atlas Composers Collective at the Atlas Theater in Washington, DC, I decided to give this music one more chance, re-working it for the current mixed ensemble and guitar solo.

The score in pdf format (29 pages)
[12.59 MB, 1 pdf file]

Recording in mp3 format (total 9'51")
[23.12 MB, 1 mp3 file, 320 kbps]

The Flight from Washington (August, 1842)
for microtonal steel-string guitar quartet and chamber orchestra (2014)

This work was performed for the first time on April 26th 2014 at Peabody Conservatory's Griswold Hall by the Atlantic Guitar Quartet and the Peabody Camerata, conducted by Gene Young.

The Flight from Washington (August, 1842) is written in three short movements, all of which are inspired by a story told by Thomas Smallwood in his memoirs, which recounts the successful escape of 15 slaves from Washington, led by
little-known antebellum abolitionist, Rev. Charles T. Torrey (1813-1846).
Torrey is credited with having led nearly 400 slaves to freedom in his lifetime. He died of Tuberculosis while incarcerated in a Baltimore City jail for his abolitionist activities.

Movement-specific notes:
I. Dusk

"About the latter part of August, 1842, the beloved friend, Torry, who is now no more, was about to leave Washington for the North, and I desired he would take with him about fifteen persons,--men, women, and children.. until the morning of the day preceeding the night on which friend Torry was to start with the fifteen, we had strove to hire a conveyance, but could not succeed, notwithstanding those persons had all been notified to meet at a certain place on that night, which notice could not be revoked, therefore the people were on the spot at the appointed time. But we were not ready, therefore we had to conceal them in various places in the City [Washington].."
  From A Narrative of Thomas Smallwood pp. 21-22

II. Shadows

Ships That Pass in the Night
  By Paul Laurence Dunbar

Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;
      I look far out into the pregnant night,
Where I can hear a solemn booming gun
      And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing;
      For I would hail and check that ship of ships.
I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,
      My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips,
And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing.

O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing,
      O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark!
Is there no hope for me? Is there no way
      That I may sight and check that speeding bark
Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?

III. Flight

"..the beloved Torry started that .. evening after the setting of the sun with fifteen persons, men, women, and children, for the North. And here I must notice the remarkable interposition of the Lord in preserving them from capture; first, if we could have got ready they would have started the first night mentioned and the early pursuit which was made after them would have resulted in their capture; but, on the contrary, notwithstanding our untiring perseverance we could not get ready; the result was their pursuers had gone a day ahead; and when they were going, some of their pursuers were returning on the same road, and but for another fortunate accident which happened they would have been met on the road and captured by them; but just as they came to a thick bush, within a convenient distance of the first place of deposit, the waggon, without exhibiting any previous weakness whatever, suddenly gave way and they had to turn aside into the bush: while they were thus snugly secreted in the bush those who were hunting them passed by without seeing or hearing any thing of them, this also served as an excellent delusion and put an end to all pursuit in that direction.."
From A Narrative of Thomas Smallwood (pp. 23-24)

Youtube video (total 8'54")

The score in pdf format (41 pages)
[10.78 MB, 1 pdf file]

Recording in mp3 format (total 8'49")
[20.68 MB, 1 mp3 file, 320 kbps]

Piedmont Rags

Piedmont Blues/Ragtime is a traditional “pre-blues" style of guitar playing most associated with the Piedmont region of the United States. The style is characterized by a regular alternating bass pattern (normally played by the thumb) juxtaposed with a syncopated melody (normally played by the forefinger).

Go Down That Hill (Piedmont Rag No. 1) for steel string guitar trio (2012)
(Guitars are specially tuned to accommodate a microtonal sixth-tone scale.)
This composition draws some of its musical material from the traditional Negro Spiritual Go Down, Moses.

Youtube video (total 3'56")

The score in pdf format (15 pages)
[10.13 MB, 1 pdf file]

Recording in mp3 format (total 3'51")
[8.82 MB, 1 mp3 file, 320 kbps]

Rainy Day (Piedmont Rag No. 2) for steel string guitar trio (2012)
(Guitars are specially tuned to accommodate a microtonal sixth-tone scale.)
i. "Rainy Day"
ii. "Night"

Youtube video (total 5'13")

The score in pdf format (21 pages)
[6.77 MB, 1 pdf file]

Recording in mp3 format (total 5'08")
[11.76 MB,1 mp3 file, 320 kbps]

The Pepper Tree for guitar trio (2010)
(Guitars are specially tuned to accommodate a microtonal sixth-tone scale.)

This work was inspired by the song El Pimiento by Víctor Jara. There are six sections, each of which is meant to evoke a particular image from the original song (see below for section titles).
This piece was premiered by Mobius Trio (guitarists Mason Fish, Matthew Linder and Robert Nance) on September 23rd, 2011 as part of the Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival in Oakland, CA. The performance was made possible through grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Meet the Composer (New Music USA).
I. “The Pepper Tree"
II. “Sun and wind sustain him"
III. “Working underground, looking for nourishment"
IV. “Blossom of red fire"
V. “Moon and wind watch over him"
VI. “Growth"

Youtube links
Mobius trio performance (total 7'03"): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o6YV1SvB1Y
Older rough recording which I feel captures the spirit of the piece, despite technical flaws (total 6'49"): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6NjJyR4v0s

Recording in mp3 format (Mobius Trio Performance) (total 6'51")
[15.71 MB, 1 mp3 file, 320 kbps; Live concert performance: Mobius Trio; Zachary James Watkins, sound engineer]

Deep River (excerpt from Beginnings: An opera for pianist and electronics, 2005-2007)

For approximately two years, while I was living in France, most of my creative energies went into a very ambitious kind of “opera" for piano and electronics. The section I've made available here is musically based on the Negro Spiritual Deep River and incorporates in the elctronic part the sounds of hammer blows (from a recording of work songs collected by Harry Oster at the Louisiana State Penitentiary during the late 1950s). This section, along with much of the rest of the work, dealt with themes relating to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Recording in mp3 format (total 5'00")
[11.46 MB, 1 mp3 file, 320 kbps; Lewis Krauthamer, piano / sound engineer]

7 short piano pieces (2003)

In this piece, and others I wrote around the same time, I was interested in treading the fine line between using sound as a purely abstract element (i.e. “sound for the sake of sound") and using it as a metaphor (for certain relationships, or representing/evoking feelings, etc.).

The mp3s I've made available for download were recorded at the Longy School of Music in 2003.

The score in pdf format (5 pages)
[2.37 MB, 1 pdf file]

Recording in mp3 format (total 13'17")
[18.18 MB, 1 rar file containing 7 mp3 files, 192 kbps; Lewis Krauthamer, piano; Tyler Futrell, sound engineer]

Trio for 12 instrumentalists (2001)

This piece reflects my interest at the time with the Second Viennese School (though the piece is not dodecaphonic), progressive harmonic/structural procedures and apparently (though I don't think I was conscious of this) the music of Messiaen.
The first movement contains in a very short and condensed form all the motivic material to be used and explored thereafter. In the same order as exposed in the first movement, the motivic material is revisited and developed in each of the subsequent movements, one motive per movement. The reason for the apparently oxymoronic title is that the work was originally written for three instruments -- and though I re-orchestrated it for chamber orchestra, it always stuck as a trio in my mind.
The piece is dedicated to Gene Young and the Peabody Camerata, whose wonderful performance from 2002 is available below for download.
I. Stürmisch
II. Molto Adagio
III. Wuchtig
IV. Langsam

The score in pdf format (24 pages)
[13.19 MB, 1 pdf file]

Recording in mp3 format (total 9'09")
[12.53 MB, 1 rar file containing 4 mp3 files, 192 kbps; Live concert performance: Peabody Camerata; Gene Young, conductor]