The Piano Sonatas of Robert Muczynski

See Also: Abstract


by Valerie Cisler

Robert Muczynski was born in Chicago on March 19, 1929. His father's parents' emigrated from Warsaw, Poland to Chicago; his mother was of Slovak descent, moving to the U.S. in 1910. He studied piano with Walter Knupfer and composition with Alexander Tcherepnin at DePaul University in Chicago, where he received the Bachelor of Music degree (1950) and the Master of Music degree (1952). Both degrees were in Piano Performance. At his Carnegie Hall debut in 1958 he presented a program of his own piano works.

Internationally recognized, Muczynski's works appear with increasing frequency on programs in the US, Europe, the Far East, Australia and Mexico. Orchestral works have been performed by the Chicago Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony of Washington, D.C., the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and others abroad.

Muczynski's awards include two "Young Composer's Project" Fellowship Grants from the Ford Foundation (1959, 1961); a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from De Paul University, Chicago; the International Society for Contemporary Music Prize for the "Suite for Piano" (1961); and the Concours Internationale Prize, in Nice, France, for the "Sonata for Flute and Piano" (1961). "A Summer Journal" was awarded "Best of the Year 1966" by "Piano Quarterly" in its fourteenth annual list of exceptional teaching pieces. In 1982, his "Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra" was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

In addition to awards, Muczynski has received a great number of commissions throughout his career: The Fromm Foundation; the Louisville Orchestra; Thor Johnson and the Chicago Little Symphony; Howard Mitchell and the National Symphony of Washington, D.C.; the Linton String Trio; the Western Arts Trio; the Tucson Symphony; saxophonist Trent Kynaston; clarinetist Mitchell Lurie; the US Information Agency's Artistic Ambassadors Program; and the University of Oklahoma Wind Quintet. Muczynski has also composed scores for nine award-winning documentary films produced by the University of Arizona Film Department. Included are "The Great Unfenced," "Yankee Painter," "American Realists," Cajititlan," "The Clowns Never Laugh," "Terra Sancta: A Film of Israel," "Bellota: A Story of Roundup," and "Journey Through Eden."

Robert Muczynski has previously taught at DePaul University, Chicago; Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa; Roosevelt University, Chicago; and the University of Arizona, Tudson (composer-in-residence and chair of the composition department). His works are featured in a permanent collection at the University of Texas at Austin, Center for American Music: The Robert Muczynski Collection.

Works with Opus Number
  • 1: Sonatina for Piano (1949-50) Associated
  • 2: Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra (1951-52)
  • 3: Five Piano Sketches (1952)
  • 4: Allegro Deciso, for Brass Sextet and Timpani (1952) Shawnee
  • 5: Symphony No. 1 (1953)
  • 6: Six Preludes for Piano (1953-54) Schirmer
  • 7: Concerto No. 1, for Piano and Orchestra (1954) Shawnee
  • 8: Variations on a Theme of Tcherepnin, for Piano (1955)
  • 9: First Piano Sonata (1955-57) Shawnee
  • 10: Galena: A Town (Suite for Orchestra) (1957-58)
  • 11/1: Trumpet Trio (1959) Schirmer
  • 11/2: Three Designs for Three Timpani (1960) Schirmer
  • 12: Dovetail Overture, for Orchestra (1959-60) Schirmer
  • 13: Suite for Piano (1960) Schirmer
  • 14: Sonata for Flute and Piano (1960-61) Schirmer
  • 15: Toccata for Piano (1961-62) Schirmer
  • 16: Movements, for Wind Quintet (1962) Shawnee
  • 17: Dance Movements, for Chamber Orchestra (1962-63) Schirmer
  • 18: Three Preludes for Unaccompanied Flute (1962) Schirmer
  • 19: A Summer Journal, for Piano (1964) Schirmer
  • 20: Symphonic Dialogues, for Orchestra (1965) Schirmer
  • 21: Fables (Nine Piano Pieces for the Young) (1965) Schirmer
  • 22: Second Piano Sonata (1965-66) Presser
  • 23: Diversions (Nine Piano Pieces for Students) (1967) Schirmer
  • 24: First Piano Trio (1966-67) Presser
  • 25: Sonata for Cello and Piano (1968) Schirmer
  • 26: Fantasy Trio, for Clarinet, Cello and Piano (1969) Presser
  • 27: Voyage (Seven Pieces for Trumpet, Horn and Trombone) (1969) Schirmer
  • 28: Charade, for Orchestra (1970-71) Schirmer
  • 29: Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1970) Schirmer
  • 30: Seven, for Piano (1970-71) Schirmer
  • 31: Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello (1971-72) Presser
  • 32: Impromptus for Solo Tuba (1972) Schirmer
  • 33: Synonyms for Life (SATB Chorus and Piano) (1973) Schirmer
  • 34: Duos for Flutes (1973) Schirmer
  • 35: Third Piano Sonata (1973-74) Presser
  • 36: Second Piano Trio (1975) Presser
  • 37: Maverick Pieces for Piano (1976) Schirmer
  • 38: A Serenade for Summer, for Chamber Orchestra (1976) Presser
  • 39: Symphonic Memoir, for large Orchestra (1978) Presser
  • 40: Masks, for Piano (1980) Presser
  • 41: Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra (1981) Presser
  • 42: Profiles, for Harpsichord (1982) Hinshaw
  • 43: Time Pieces, for Clarinet and Piano (1983) Presser
  • 44: Dream Cycle, for Piano (1983) Presser
  • 45: Quintet for Winds (1985) Presser
  • 46: Third Piano Trio (1986-87) Presser
  • 47: Moments, for Flute and Piano (1992) Presser
  • 48: Desperate Measures (Paganini Variations) for Piano (1996) Presser

Works without Opus Number:

  • American Songs for Piano, Four Hands, in two books (1953-54) Associated
  • Fragments, for Woodwind Trio, Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon (1958) Shawnee
  • Statements for Percussion (1961) Schirmer
  • Fanfare for Brass and Percussion (1961)
  • Alleluia, for SATB Chorus (1961) Schirmer
  • I Never Saw a Moor, for SATB Chorus (1967) Schirmer
  • Gallery: Suite for Solo Cello (on paintings of Charles Burchfield) (1966) Schirmer

Documentary Film Scores:

  • The Great Unfenced (Australia's "outback"), full orchestra (1962-63)
  • Yankee Painter (The Works of Winslow Homer), flute, clarinet, horn, cello (1963)
  • American Realists (American painting from Colonial to 20th century), wind quintet (1964)
  • Cajititlan (a village in Mexico) full orchestra (1964-65)
  • Charles Burchfield (tracing the American artist's work from early to late periods), unaccompanied cello (1966)
  • The Clowns Never Laugh (the paintings of American artist Walt Kuhn), flute, clarinet, horn and cello (1967)
  • Terra Sancta: A Film of Israel, full orchestra (1967)
  • Bellota: A Story of Roundup, guitar, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, cello, double bass, harp, (1969)
  • Journey Through Eden (East Africa), flute, horn, celesta, harp, cello, double bass, percussion (1974)