Parents’ Expectations

2013 – for amplified viola & fixed electronics – 10:15

Sheet Music

Score (pdf)
[please contact me for the fixed electronics sound file]

  1. Parents' Expectations Elizabeth Reid (viola) Buy or Stream 10:21


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Album: Project Dovetail
Date: October 22, 2021

Musician(s): Elizabeth Reid (viola), Frank Horvat (piano)
Producer: Frank Horvat
Location: Canterbury Music, Toronto
Label: Centrediscs

Project Dovetail album - composed by Frank Horvat

Programme Notes

The piece is inspired by a documentary I watched online about the life of Steve Reich. In one part of the doc, Reich recounts the divorce of his parents and how his father disapproved of him becoming a composer. Although I never experienced this in my own life, this unfortunate common tale moved me to explore what it must feel like for a child to not be able to live up to the expectations of a parent. Reich’s mix of emotions in recounting that chapter in his life motivated me to sample the words he used to describe it in the film and incorporate it into the work.

The viola plays throughout the piece. The opening 3 1/2 minutes sees the viola sustain a single high A harmonic blending into the varied electronic tone colours, including a bursting initial bar. Part 2 sees the viola playing a triplet ostinato that has interplay with the rest of the parts and occasional melodic fragments being featured. And the 3rd and final part sees subtle electronic accompaniment to a very melodic viola part with much legato, pizz, tremolo and trilled passages as the piece comes to a subdued close.

– Frank Horvat

Listening Notes:

You will hear the word ‘amicable’ throughout the piece. This describes Reich’s parents’ relationship after their divorce. However amicable the split was, Reich’s father’s negative view of his mother’s artistic side is probably why father and son had such a rocky relationship; not accepting this career path for his son. It took an article in the New York Times for Reich’s father to see Steve’s talent and accept him for who he was.


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