The Music Box - Fantasy for Orchestra

Here is a showstopper for your audience; this work has been known to both surprise, shock, and to delight! Your students will surely enjoy unpacking the surprises inside of this work for orchestra. There are certain elements which permeate this piece, including: majestic melodies, powerfully percussive statements, and a dizzying contrapuntal setting, in which great currents of energy are generated over the course of 11 minutes. Even as it inches ever-so-slightly into new (modern) territory, the legacy of orchestral performance is preserved fully; by the end, the entire orchestra will have become one large "Music Box." (The old fashioned kind; one with a giant hand crank on the side!) 


This brilliantly elusive work takes its cue from a TED Talk Series, in which Movie Director JJ Abrams (Cloverfield, Star Trek) referred to the philosophy of the "Mystery Box," one in which suspense is derived from that which is not seen, nor revealed. Indeed, one must approach this work with the utmost care. After all, you never know where "The Music Box" may begin, nor where it will end...


**This work was written for and premiered by the Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra in 2010, with Maestro Paul Hostetter conducting. It can be heard in its entirety here.**

The Music Box - Fantasy for Orchestra

  • Title: The Music Box: Fantasy for Orchestra

    Author: Original

    Time: 11 Minutes

    Orchestration: Orchestral Music

    Kind: Single-Movement Work

    Instrumentation: 3333 4331, Hp., Perc., Strings

    Program Notes: The son of an engineer and of a musical family, I have a deep love and appreciation of both machines, and of music. I think that there is something profoundly important to be said of both the mechanics and structure of music as well as the of the shear beauty that can be found in the organizational structure of machines. Hand in hand, I believe that there is a synergy in the working together of these two objects that could potentially know no bounds. 

        Film director/producer J.J. Abrams says that one of the things that inspired him a child and which continues to inspire him today as an artist is the idea of a ”box.” In a lecture he gave at the 2008 “TEDtalks,” he explained both the importance and uniqueness of boxes as a conceptual element. A box is an opaque object that holds other objects. We use boxes to pack things; we use boxes to transport things and to store things. The beauty of this commonplace object lies in the fact that it is impossible to know what actually lies in the box unless you yourself were the one to pack it. There is a great reservoir of potential energy that can be derived from not knowing what lies in the box; and he believes (and I concur) that this is actually a tangible thing that can be measured, controlled, and harnessed. 

        As a child, I used to love opening up (and closing) music boxes, listening to them, and observing what would happen. Whether it be the traditional music box (usually with some sort of dancer or ballerina twirling around on top), or the insidiously repetitive Cuckoo on the inside of that clock, or simply the old fashioned Jack-in-the-box with that rusty crank on the side, the most interesting thing about them is that whenever you open one, you never know what you will get. I can remember asking myself: What will the music sound like? Where the music will begin? or where even will it end? Will it even end? And HOW will it happen!? Herein lies the mystery; herein lies the suspense; herein lies the excitement; and it is in this realm where my “Music Box” will attempt to exist and to function. With this conceptually experimental piece, I hope to recreate for you my first encounter with one of these fascinating machines called a music box.


    Commissioned by: Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra, with Maestro Paul Hostetter conducting


    Key: N/A

    Written: Fall 2010

    Premiered: Paul Hostetter, Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra - December 1, 2010