violin or cello and piano (2005)




10 min.


violin or cello and piano


i. cadenze
ii. evening prayers
iii. excursion
iv. aria

Program Notes

Veloce is a set of 4 miniatures strung together by a common interest in speed.  The first movement, cadenze, is an attempt to create an entire movement constructed of nothing but a series of cadenzas for each instrument.  It is marked “Wildly fast” and is meant to be both a virtuosic display and a toccata-like exposing of the novel tonal basis for this work.  Veloce was composed using a new technique I have developed that uses tonality based not on the circle of fifths, but rather on a unique set of symmetrical circles that produce a fascinating, yet familiar tonal landscape.

After the ferocious beginning, the tiny second movement, evening prayer, is a joltingly static, meditative response.  The piano begins with a bell-like tolling ostinato. After a couple of cycles, the violin answers with a distant chant, a plaintive prayer. The third, untitled movement is played as fast as possible from start to finish.  The players chase each other across their upper registers in a furious though nearly silent (ppp sempre!) scamper.  The final movement, aria, is marker Adagio lacrimosa.  It is a lament for the violin marked by harsh and unrelenting interjections from the piano.  The work ends with a subdued though not quite fully resolved Eb Major chord.

Justin Merritt Music

Composer Justin Merritt was the youngest-ever winner of the ASCAP Foundation Rudolph Nissim Award. He is also the winner of a host of other awards including the McKnight Fellowship, the Copland Award, and the Polyphonos Prize. His music has been played by the Minnesota Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, and on A Prairie Home Companion.

His evening length cantata, The Path, was premiered at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis in April 2018. The work is a setting of a collection of Buddhist Pali scriptures translated by the composer and set for multiple choirs, soloists, and large orchestra.

He received his Bachelors from Trinity University and his Masters and Doctorate from Indiana University. He studied composition with Samuel Adler, Sven-David Sandstrom, Claude Baker, Timothy Kramer, Don Freund, and electronic and computer music with Jeffrey Hass. He is currently Professor and Chair of Music at St. Olaf College. He resides in Northfield, Minnesota with his wife Faye and their children Cullen Fang Ouxiang and Molly Fang Qinghe.

More Products from Justin Merritt Music


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Veloce”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Questions and Answers

You are not logged in