”Music illuminates a person through and through,
and it is also his last hope and final refuge.”
– Dmitry Shostakovich (Memoirs)
Compositions | Variations on Native Californian themes | Background to compositions | MP3 samples
I am a self-taught guitarist. I have played the guitar since I was ten, and classical guitar for thirty-five years. Improvisations that evaporated off the vibrating strings of my guitar have slowly evolved into compositions for guitar on paper, which are listed below. The original compositions for guitar and guitar ensemble listed on this page have been influenced by years of playing the music of the masters: Bach, Dowland, Giuliani, Carcassi, Sor, Tárrega, and other composers from past centuries. Those of the twentieth century who have influenced me include: Barrios, Llobet, Villa Lobos, Lauro, Reis, Riera, Borges, Falu, Jobim, Neumann and Brouwer. Another main influence on these compositions has been the folk music of Latin America and Sweden. Here is a Swedish folk song for two guitars:
Walking SongAlthough not as popular as rock guitar today, the classical guitar tradition laid the foundation for all guitar playing: rock, jazz, folk and other styles. I began with the finger-picking style of American folk music at the age of ten, when I bought my first guitar. A good friend on Darby Street taught me the American classic of finger-picking guitar: ”Freight Train” by Elizabeth Cotton. (Listen to my Freight Train Variations for two guitars below.) The agility of hands and fingers required for finger-picking guitar proved to be very helpful in meeting the demands of classical guitar playing. (The two styles meet in the ragtimes of Scott Joplin, which are quite fun to play and listen to in guitar transcriptions.)
guitarists: Jan Rudling, Theo Radic
The Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer sees the guitar as ”a delicate orchestra” and composes music for his ”Guitar-Harp” thinking of a miniature orchestra in his hands: ”Four foolish notes give me the pretext to compose a work of big dimensions.” He plucks forth harmonies from the ”sound spectrum” as a painter does from the light spectrum. Guitarist/conductor Angel Romero has a similar belief: ”The guitar for me is like a little orchestra, and the orchestra is like a big guitar.” (Gitarr och Luta No. 2, 2005)
”In the first place the composer's gift of invention cannot be taught.”
– Paul Hindemith (A Concentrated Course in Traditional Harmony)
Copyright © Theo Radic 1997-2015
$4 per pdf file
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§ WALTZ FOR CARNA (sample)
§ FINGERPICKING RONDO (sample)
§ ANDANTINO (sample)
§ SONG OF THE ISLANDS (variation on a Luiseño theme) (sample)
§ FUGUE ON A THEME BY MAHLER (sample)
§ MONDAY WHIM (Raveliana) (sample)
§ TUESDAY WHIM (Shostakovichiana) (sample)
§ WEDNESDAY WHIM (sample)
§ THURSDAY WHIM (Valse ironique) (sample)
§ FRIDAY WHIM (sample)
§ SATURDAY WHIM (Schubertiana) (sample)
§ SUNDAY WHIM (sample)
§ WHY NOT? (sample)
§ ETUDE No. 1 (sample)
§ ETUDE No. 2 (sample)
§ ETUDE No. 3 (sample)
§ ETUDE No. 4 (sample)
§ ETUDE No. 5 (sample)
§ ETUDE No. 6 (sample)
§ PRELUDE No. 1 (sample)
§ PRELUDE No. 2 (sample)
§ PRELUDE No. 3 (sample)
§ PRELUDE No. 4 (sample)
§ PRELUDE No. 5 (sample)
$6 per pdf file
sent by email
(clarinet, guitar, violin, cello, bass) $25 (score + 5 parts) (sample pages)
1st and 2nd movements (allegro ma non troppo and larghetto)
3rd movement (allegretto)
Review in Classical Guitar Magazine 2006
§ EL INDITO
(flute, guitar, violin, cello) (score + 4 parts) (duration: 4:55) (sample pages)
§ DRAGONFLY QUARTET
(flute, violin, guitar, cello) (score + 4 parts) (duration: 6:24) (sample pages)
§ SATYR QUARTET
(clarinet, guitar, cello, bass) (score + 4 parts) (duration: 3:52) (sample pages)
(flute, guitar, violin) (score + 3 parts) (duration: 3:38) (sample pages)
§ GIN AND TONIC
(flute and guitar) (score + 2 parts) (duration: 3:30) (sample pages)
§ FREIGHT TRAIN VARIATIONS
(two guitars) (score + 2 parts) (duration: 4:59) (sample)
§ DAY HIKE (In Brahms' footsteps)
(two guitars)(score + 2 parts) (duration: 3:42) (sample)
(two guitars) (score + 2 parts) (duration: 2:42) (sample)
(two guitars) (score + 2 parts) (duration: 3:39) (sample)
§ VARIATIONS ON A THEME BY O'CAROLAN
(two guitars) (score + 2 parts) (duration: 5:07) (sample)
§ APRIL SONG
(two guitars) (duration: 2:24) (sample)
§ CLOUD CHANT
(two guitars) (duration: 4:00) (sample)
$25 plus shipping
Complete score plus four parts
$19 plus shipping
Works for symphony orchestra
$25 plus shipping
Scores for individual instruments $10
contact composer at:
Orchestral Variations on
a Native Californian Theme
$25 plus shipping
Orchestral Variations on
a Native Californian Theme
$25 plus shipping
§ SONG OF THE MOUNTAINS (Variation on a Luiseño theme)
§ GAMBLING CHANT (Variation on an Achumawi theme)
§ HUNTING CHANT (Variation on a Shasta theme)
§ LOVE-MAGIC CHANT (Variation on a Karuk theme)
§ WAR CHANT (Variation on a Modoc theme) for Leonard Peltier
§ ACORN CHANT (Canon and Variation on a Huchnom theme)
Jaime de Angulo's original field notes for "Puberty Chant" and "Gambling Chant" Tribal map of California
$19 plus shipping
$12 plus shipping
"Week of Whims" is an album of seven pieces for solo guitar (2003-2011), each the result of a sudden whim begun on a given week day, but finished after prolonged work. Prokofiev's piano suites Five Sarcasms and Fugitive Visions were in the back of my mind.
"Variations on a Theme by O'Carolan" (2008) for two guitars is based on this blind Irish harpist's famous melody "Fanny Power". These variations for two guitars take the harp as model, and meander into different keys and styles, from baroque to jazz, from consonance to dissonance back to consonance. I composed them after greatly enjoying playing the fine arrangement of “Fanny Power” for solo guitar by El McMeen .
"Shalawa" (2007) for two guitars gets its name from a meadow in Santa Barbara named after an ancient Chumash village and adjacent burial ground. Like "Meandering" the 2/4 time is typical of the choro.
"Meandering" (2007) for two guitars meanders through influences from Brazil and Europe. The 2/4 time is typical of the choro.
"Fugue on a Theme by Mahler" (2006) for solo guitar builds on fifteen notes from a melody in Symphony No. 1.
"Week of Whims" is an album of seven pieces for solo guitar (2003-2011), each the result of a sudden whim begun on a given week day, but finished after prolonged work. Prokofiev's piano suites "Five Sarcasms" and "Fugitive Visions" are in the back of my mind.
"Why not?" is to be played "Allegro à la Nazareth." It begins with a bass pattern used by Ernesto Nazareth, and frequent in other Brazilian music. Dilermando Reis may have been lurking in the back of my head as well. The title is an answer to Swedish guitarist/composer Börje Sandquist's solo piece "You won't Come In."
"Etude" is the first composition for 2000, a staccato excursion with silent pauses playing key roles.
"Etude No. 2" is freely based on Henry Purcell's charming song "If Musick be the Food of Love." Chord sequences and patterns are used in counterpoint.
"Etude No. 3" is a study in natural and artificial harmonics.
"Etude No. 5" (allegretto) is the last of the six etudes to be completed. A bit of Chopin.
"Etude No. 6" is played "alla zoppa" ("limping, syncopated"), and is a staccato study in muting strings so that the eighth notes don't resonate longer than their value.
"Prelude No. 1" and "Prelude No. 2" are composed in the spirit of the Bach preludes. No. 1 uses a rhythmic pattern derived from Prokofiev's "Classical Symphony."
"Quintet" (2006) for guitar, violin, cello, bass and clarinet is dedicated to Nadia Borislova, whose music has been a great inspiration to me, along with that of her countryman Dmitry Shostakovich, whose piano quintet gave me the idea for starting this piece. The Serbian folk song "Bela Rada" is used as one of the themes in the first movement (allegro ma non troppo). The second movement (larghetto) is influenced by bossa nova, jazz and tango. The third and final movement (allegretto) elaborates on a theme by Shostakovich.
"Dragonfly Quartet" (2006) for flute, violin, guitar and cello is based on a Serrano/Cahuilla lullaby about Dragonfly as printed in Ernest Siva’s Voices of the Flute, published in 2004 by Ushkana Press, the publishing arm of the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning, California. ("Ushkana" refers to Dragonfly.) It is dedicated to the late Dorothy Ramon (1909-2002), the last speaker of the Serrano language. The piece is in one movement with three sections ("calm and confident", "dolce" and "scherzando") and no pauses. The tremolos evoke the dragonfly's hovering on transluscent wings.
"Satyr Quartet" (2007) for clarinet, guitar, cello and bass is a musical parody of the satyr plays of ancient Greece, themselves parodies. Silenus (said to resemble Socrates) is the father of the satyrs. He is the “walking bass” in the piece. The clarinet, guitar and cello are his “sons” - the satyrs. I ask the guitarist and cellist to drum on their respective instruments in a samba rhythm, while old Silenus - the “walking bass” - sees to it that the clarinet, guitar and cello don’t get into too much trouble.
"Trio"(2006) for flute, guitar, violin has influences from Russian, Swedish and Brazilian music.
"Gin and Tonic"(2006) for flute and guitar began as random notes placed on the system, a fugue begun with it, continuing with variations. To be played "with effervescence".
"Freight Train Variations" (2006) is based on the American finger-picking classic, the first piece I ever learned to play on the guitar when I was ten. The variations for two guitars on this theme lead into jazz, baroque and modern classical styles.
"Day Hike (In Brahms' footsteps)" (2006) for two guitars is based on Rhapsody No. 1 of Johannes Brahms.
"Song of the Mountains" is based on two bars of musical notation in Malki News jotted down by the Cahuilla/Serrano musician Ernest Siva, to whom it is dedicated. It was sung to him by Luiseño elder Margaret Holly, and concerns five sacred mountains of southern California. I have stood on the summits of three of these, and the main mountain of the song, Mount Baldy, is a permanent part of my life. Mount Baldy is called Muuyullpah in Mrs. Holly's song. I watched the sun go down behind it my entire youth, and my mother still does.
The themes of "Gambling Chant", "Love-Magic Chant", "War Chant", "Puberty Chant" and "Hunting Chant" were among the "songz" gathered by Jaime de Angulo decades ago in his research into the music of northern Native California. De Angulo could not write standard musical notation, and invented some amazing techniques (decipherable only to himself) to record changes of pitch to help him remember. He knew most of the songs by heart and sang them with great pleasure, although he was not a Native Californian. The texts of these songs in translation can be as varied as "let us two make love with our legs entangled," "digging the earth, only rotten turnips do I find," and, "you are scornful, but your skirts are too short." Two Karuk love songs tell how a girl is missed terribly by her lover after she was abducted from her home and taken to Samfasiskûu (San Francisco) by white slave hunters. For more information see Jaime de Angulo: The Music of the Indians of Northern California, 1988, edited by Peter Garland, Soundings Press, P.O. Box 8319, Santa Fe, NM 87504-8319. More on Jaime de Angulo...
The themes for "Acorn Chant" and "Kekhhoal’s (Old Blind’s) Song" were notated by Stephen Powers in the 1870s on his trek through California at the time of the Ghost Dances, included in his book Tribes of California. The fugue based on this Yuki theme is a study in counterpoint, especially between Native Californian music (of which I know little) and that of Johann Sebastian Bach. It was published in the spring 2000 issue of Gitarr och Luta, the main Swedish magazine for guitar and lute.
Theo Radic on guitar:
01 – Georgia on my Mind (Hogey Carmichael, arr. Börje Sandquist)
02 – Dream about Elin (trad. arr. Börje Sandquist)
03 – Nocturne (Evert Taube)
04 – Etude op. 31 no. 16 (Fernando Sor)
05 – Raveliana (Theo Radic)
06 – Andantino (Theo Radic)
07 – Walking song from Edsbyn (traditional)
08 – Bridal march (trad/ Jan Johansson, arr.Theo Radic)
09 – Autumn (suite for guitar) (Ulf G. Åhslund)
10 – Bride waltz (Evert Taube, arr. Thorstein Bergman)
11 – Breeze from Alabama (Scott Joplin, arr. Eythor Thorlaksson)
12 – Villancico de Navidad (Agustín Barrios)
13 – Prelude (from cello suite no. 1) (Johann Sebastian Bach)
14 – Etude no. 1 (Vassilii Sarenko)
with Jan Rudling:
15 – Morenita do Brasil (Giuseppe Farrauto)
16 – Planxty Burke (O'Carolan, arr. Jan Rudling)
17 – Jan's Song (Jan Rudling)
18 – Pashona kolo (Uros Dojcinovic)
19 – Nocturne (Alexander Borodin, arr. Theo Radic)
20 – Birthday waltz for Mona (Benny Anderson, arr. Jan Rudling)
21 – Invention no. 1 (Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Theo Radic)
22 – Un Dia de Noviembre (Leo Brouwer)
Another painter with his lyre
Self-portrait of the Happy Dutchman
Jan Steen (1626-1679)
The painter's lyre
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