Piano Quartet

ENS.2017.4c | 13′
Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello


I. Overland

II. Petersburg

III. Appomattox

The final campaign for victory in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War unfolded in three distinct phases. Beginning in May 1864, Ulysses S. Grant’s so-called Overland Campaign pushed Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia out of their lines on the Rapidan, inexorably forcing the Southerners closer and closer to the Confederate capital of Richmond. Lee, however, managed to hold off Grant and dig in at the crucial railway hub of Petersburg, where the armies bogged down in a prolonged siege whose brutal trench warfare foreshadowed the muddy combat of the First World War. After a long, bitter winter, in late March 1865 Lee broke out of Petersburg, followed closely by Grant’s Army of the Potomac. Twelve days later the harried Confederates were finally brought to heel outside of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, where in the parlor of Wilmer McLean’s house Lee surrendered his army, beginning the slow process of ending the Civil War.

My Piano Quartet is part of an ongoing series of compositions in which fundamentally abstract music does battle with extravagantly unrelated extramusical narratives. It completes a trilogy of instrumental works relating in some way to the American Civil War entitled “Mystic Chords of Memory.”