Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel, a Fable for Narrator and Orchestra, Op. 59, is based on the classic Grimm fairy talc. The children in the original story do not lose their way in the forest, but, much more scarily, are deliberately abandoned by their starving stepmother and father. Both children-especially Gretel-triumph as the heroes of their perilous adventure.
This piece, written in August 2001, was commissioned and designed to introduce the instruments of the orchestra to children under the age of twelve. As the narrator tells us, various instruments represent the characters of the story. The French horns play the father's music, the stepmother is played on a muted trumpet, Gretel is represented by the violin and Hansel by the cello. Three friendly animals are heard in the woodwinds: with a tip of the hat to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, their cat is played by the clarinet, the bird is played by a flute, and the duck by the oboe. The wicked witch is heard on the xylophone.
In addition certain elements of the story are painted by the music. For example, the jewels the children find shine in the orchestra. The evil step-mother and the witch share the interval of a tritone, and both have similar motives drawn from a half diminished seventh chord. The father's music centers around c minor, and the music for Hansel and Gretel is closely related to G major.
Hansel and Gretel, finished in August 2001, was commissioned by New England Conservatory Preparatory School, Mark Churchill, Dean. It was written with the instrumentation of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and with its conductor, Benjamin Zander, in mind. They gave the world premiere at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, November 3, 2002. I also arranged the work as a Suite for Piano, Op. 65, for intermediate piano students.
-Larry Bell Hansel and Gretel is published by Casa Rustica Publications (BMI) ©2001 Larry Bell
Recognized by The Chicago Tribune as "a major talent," composer Larry Bell has been awarded the Rome Prize, fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and the Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and grants from the American Music Center, the American Symphony Orchestra League, and Meet the Composer. He has been a resident composer at Bennington College, the Woodstock/Fringe Festival, the American Academy in Rome, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Bellagio Study and Conference Center, The Rivers School, and the MacDowell Colony.
Bell's music has been widely performed in the United States and abroad by such orchestras and ensembles as the Seattle Symphony, RAI Orchestra of Rome, Juilliard Philharmonia, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Ruse Philharmonia (Bulgaria), Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, University of Miami Symphony, ÖENM (Salzburg Mozarteum), Boston Chamber Music Society, Speculum Musicae, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble,Borromeo String Quartet, North/South Consonance, and Music Today (NYC), as well as at festivals in Ravinia, Aspen, Valencia (Spain), Pontino (Italy), San Salvador, Russia (Moscow Autumn), and New Zealand. The Juilliard String Quartet premiered Bell's first String Quartet, written when the composer was only twenty-one. Bell's music has been commissioned and performed by a distinguished array of performers including Eric Bartlett, Joel Krosnick, Andres Diaz, Ayano Ninomiya, Sara Davis Buechner, D'Anna Fortunato, John Muratore, and conductors Jorge Mester, Gerard Schwarz, Gil Rose, and Benjamin Zander. He and his music have also been the subject of documentaries on National Public Radio's "New Directions in Europe," and Concertzender, Radio Amsterdam. Recordings of Bell's works appear on North/South Recordings, Barking Dog Records,Vienna Modern Masters, New England Conservatory Recordings, Pont Neuf, and Albany Records.
As a pianist Bell performs his music regularly and has championed works by American composers. He has given recitals throughout the United States, as well as in Italy, Austria, and Japan. Bell is frequently heard on Boston's WGBH-FM radio, has given their first live broadcast on the World Wide Web of his trio Mahler in Blue Light, and performed as soloist on CDs of his Piano Concerto and Piano Sonata and as an assisting artist on the recordings River of Ponds (the complete cello music), The Book of Moonlight (the complete violin music) and Larry Bell Vocal Music. Bell's music is published by Casa Rustica Publication and Ione Press, a division of ECS Publishing. His work is licensed for performance through Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI) and he is represented by Rosalie Calabrese Management.
Bell received his DMA from The Juilliard School, working in composition with Vincent Persichetti and Roger Sessions, in solfège with Renée Longy, piano with Joseph Bloch and with Joseph Rollino privately in Rome. He later taught in Juilliard's Pre-College Division. Bell is chair of music theory at the New England Conservatory of Music Division of Preparatory and Continuing Education. Larry Bell resides in Boston and is married to musicologist Andrea Olmstead.