Time to Travel

premiered February 1996
by Karl and Margaret Kohn, pianos
at Bridges Hall, Pomona College
Claremont, CA

I wrote Time to Travel for Karl and Margaret Kohn, and could not help but think of them during the process, as pianists, as musicians, and as friends. They have an extraordinary command of their instruments, an astonishing ensemble, and a profound musical instinct. Their warmth and enthusiasm for music and life have enriched the lives of all who have come in contact with them. Perhaps their intense discourse with the music of the second Viennese school and its descendants influenced the piece’s basic chordal vocabulary (mostly tritone/fourth-, and major/minor third-chords). Their decades-long association with the Bartok Sonata for two pianos and percussion was never far from my mind, as is clear from many rhythmic and melodic gestures in the piece.

Time to Travel explores my concerns with how rhythm works, how a beat sounds like a beat, and how other musical events seem to revolve around beats. The piece begins with quickly alternating chords, heard first in the right and left hands of Piano 1, and then between the two pianos. The relationship between the chords evolves from simple alternation to more complex interactions, but the chords and their original relationship are never far from the surface. Their pitch content and rhythmic profile are the source of much of the piece. The title can be interpreted in several ways. The way that time travels through the piece is the primary determinant of the form. Syncopations within one tempo become the primary beat in the next, and time can be heard as moving at different rates in the interim. Also, although Margaret is still teaching piano in the department, and although Karl is still very present on the musical scene, now that Karl has retired, the Kohns may have at least a little more time to travel.

Time to Travel is available on Bridge Records and on iTunes

Music of Tom Flaherty

Vorarlberg Resonance
Karl and Margaret Kohn, piano four-hands

Peter Yates, guitar; Tom Flaherty, cello

Trio for Cello and Digital Processor
Tom Flaherty, cello

Tom Flaherty, cello

Quartet for Viola, Cello and Digital Processor
Cynthia Fogg, viola; Tom Flaherty, cello

Time to Travel
Karl and Margaret Kohn, pianos


score excerpt