David A. Bagno
"An American Composer"
Overall rating of 90 out of 100.
The musical abilities of this composer will blow you away in this CD. Even with only 4 tracks, this CD makes a grand addition to anyone's classical collection. Every track on this album sparkles with talent and magic. Each track on this CD lives up to it's name and will draw listeners in and hold them captive throughout the whole track. I have to admit that the second track, Proteus and Quadra was my favorite here. It's fast, almost angry at times, melody captured my heart and planted itself there for good. I have to recommend this CD to anyone and everyone. Even if you are not a classical lover, this CD will change your mind.
Waterfall Prelude In E Major (1983) 1:57
The Waterfall Prelude was composed in the piano rooms of Stony Brook University. I consider this to be my first composition. It came at a time when I was searching for my own compositional style. I resisted the faculty's influence to be an atonal composer. I believed that music should be beautiful and exalt the hearts and minds of man. I believed that music could still be revolutionary even if it were beautiful. The Waterfall Prelude represents the beginning of this journey. I never played it for any of my teachers because I was ashamed of it. It was not until several years later that I played the composition in public. Listeners kept saying, "It sounds like a waterfall" so that's when I decided to call it the Waterfall Prelude.
Proteus And Quadra (1992) 8:27
Proteus and Quadra is a fiery duet for violin and piano. It was my first violin work. It was originally recorded with the first Macintosh Quadra and EMU Proteus. That is where the title came from. It was first aired on WSHU in the spring of 1992. A woman driving on the Connecticut Freeway liked the piece so much that she pulled over to the side of the road to copy down the information. She later got in touch with me through the radio station in an effort to track down a tape.
Quartet In G Sharp Minor (2002) 19:46
In the two years previous to beginning this quartet, I did not write a note. I felt that composing was a waste of valuable time. An inward nostalgia for music gave birth to this work. I was surprised to find that my compositional skills progressed in the absence of composing. As a result this quartet is more artful. There is a certain sophistication and maturity more evident in the music. The piano, violin, viola and cello each play equal rolls in the unfolding drama. Tiny independent threads are woven together producing huge sonoric textures. These dramatic crescendos make for exciting moments in the composition.
Fantasia Quartet In C Minor (2004) 41:49
This work too was born of a nostalgic return to music. After completing the previous quartet, I did not compose for almost a year. To date, I consider this my greatest composition. I am very proud of this work both because of its content and the dedication it took to complete it. It took almost two years to complete. This CD project was motivated by an effort to not let the Fantasia Quartet sit on my bookshelf and collect dust. I believe music like this needs to be heard. You really have to give this work a chance. There is something in it for everyone. It will make you cry, it will make you sing. It will make you laugh and even make you dance. The contemporary harmonies and syncopations will be familiar to all. The classical treatment of these elements makes it more then just drivel. I believe if Beethoven were alive today, this is the kind of music he would be writing.
I first became interested in music in 1977 at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. I wanted an easy first semester so I took introductory courses in Art, Psychology, Physical Ed, Anthropology and Music. The music class really took me by surprise. I discovered that I had an untapped gift for writing music. I don't think there was ever a more productive time in my life because my ego had not yet been crushed. I was able to write one or two songs a day. I use to play them in music class and around campus. I received a lot of praise and encouragement for my music. In my second year, I got a piano teacher who introduced me to Mozart and I fell in love with the piano.
In 1980 my father died from a heart attack. I never returned to Kutztown. In the fall I tried transferring to a local school so I could help my mother. Stony Brook's music department accepted me but not my music credits so I had to start the whole thing over. Unlike Kutztown, Stony Brook was a real high-end music school. I went from being a big fish in a little pond to a non-entity. For a brief time I was fortunate enough to study composition with the renowned Sheila Sliver a recipient of the Prix de Paris. The days of my naive productivity had come to an end. Academia and atonalism muzzled me. It would be a few years later until I would find the heart to write again. In the meantime I took this opportunity to devote myself entirely to the piano.
When leaving school I came up a day late and dollar short. I took a job in a local piano store selling pianos. I would demo the pianos by playing Mozart. People liked the music but not enough to buy pianos so I became a carpenter. I thought my dream of music had come to an end. Slowly as my endurance for the hard work of being a carpenter built up, I would go to the University at night and practice the piano. It was at this time when I started composing again. It was in this period that I composed "The Lover's Waltz", "Genesis" and the "City Of God".
Eventually I got out of construction when a local music store gave me a part time job as a piano teacher. I soon had enough students to earn an income. In my efforts to become a better teacher I discovered the computer. I started making my own lesson books and then developing music programs to teach piano. My success as a programmer paved the way for me to earn a living as a professional software developer in Washington DC.
From time to time I look in on the music world to see what's going on. Twenty-four years later nothing has changed. Academia is still writing music and grants for music nobody wants to hear. Classical record labels and radio stations are still spinning remixes of the top 100 from 200 years ago and the masses still think Billy Joel is a great composer. Where is American music? I think music has been hijacked by the extremes of academia and commercialism. Recently a local radio host said that the only serious music being produced in America is coming out of Hollywood. He was refereeing to John Williams. To me that says it all.
David Bagno began studying piano lessons in the 5th Grade. In 7th grade, his football coach made him take 60 laps around the goal posts because he came an hour late to practice because of a piano lesson. As with most adolescents, he chose to play football instead. It was not until college after being plagued with sports injuries and other disappointments, did he turn to music. This crossroad uncovered a hidden talent for composing and a newfound love for music. At this time, he began to consider if music could ever bring him the satisfaction that sports did.
In 1980 the untimely death of his father brought him to Stony Brook University where he was accepted into the music program. It was only because of the promise he showed as a composer that he got in. At Stony Brook, Bagno was exposed to some of the finest pianists and pedagogy in classical music. Greatly motivated and inspired, he began to practice 8 to 10 hours a day. Despite this, he soon realized that it would take years for his piano playing to reach the level of the other students. Still determined, he read through the existing piano method books and practiced the standard exercises and etudes. Disappointed with the results, he decided to take control of his musical destiny. "There has to be a better way. I don't have 20 years to learn how to play the piano!"
In the spirit of progress, he obtained permission from the University to do an independent research study on the physiology of piano playing and the anatomy of the hand. He believed that with a thorough knowledge of the hand, he could accelerate the development of his piano technique. His research lead to new piano exercises and methods beyond the scope of conventional teachings. Today the proofs of this work have manifested in several areas. His piano compositions like the "City Of God" and "Genesis", both which were submitted for the Pulitzer Prizes, are among the most difficult works written for the instrument. His high-tech cutting edge piano technique has also opened new frontiers in his compositional style and pianistic invention. The recordings on his CDs give testimony to this. Some of these compositions have been played on classical stations coast to coast from WNYC in New York to KBOQ in California.
Finally, as a piano teacher, Bagno was repeatedly able to bring beginner piano students to a level of playing Bach and Mozart within a few months. Many of these teaching philosophies and methods are captured in his popular music software course, "The Music Lab Series". His computerized education series is used in many Universities and learning institutions in this country and abroad.
Since 1995 Bagno has been working as a software engineer in Washington DC. He still wakes up every morning at 4:30 AM to find time to compose before going into work. In the evening after work, he continues to develop and refine his music education software. Both these passions he continues to the present day hoping some day that his work will receive the recognition it deserve.
Linda Forsyth PHD.