Line Drawings (after Mark Tobey) - Samuel Adler

Line Drawings (after Mark Tobey) (1978) – Samuel Adler (b. 1928)
Dorn Publications, published 1979

Samuel Adler and his family immigrated to the U.S.A. just before the start of WWII. He studied composition with Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, and Paul Hindemith. Adler studied conducting with Serge Koussevitzky. Adler's professional career included teaching positions at the University of North Texas, 30 years at Eastman School of Music, and time at Julliard. He wrote a large number of text books including the popular, The Study of Orchestration.

Line Drawings was inspired by the paintings of Mark Tobey (1890-1976). An American, Tobey traveled the world tirelessly, living places such as England, Japan, and the Middle East between 1930 and 1960. In 1960 he moved to Basel. His spirituality contributed to his art and was a central factor in his travels across the globe. Tobey’s focused on texture in his painting. He explored contrasts between light and dark. His use of lines was influenced by Eastern calligraphy practices.

More on Mark Tobey, from MOMA:

Adler’s two movement work captures Tobey’s interest in textural contrast. The first movement, “Light Drawing,” unfolds slowly. He uses open quartal and quintal harmonies to create a consonant sound. The second section features a chant-like soprano saxophone solo over light, staccato tone clusters.

The rhythmic and virtuosic second movement, “Dark Drawing,” contrasts musical chaos against the organization of the first movement. The four parts are more equal and often intertwined in counterpoint than in the first movement. A relentless energy carries throughout the movement.

Hear it:
RSQ, America
BIS, 1998

Vision Quartet, Conicality
Self-produced, 1998

Other saxophone works by Sam Adler: Canto IV (1975) saxophone; Soundings (1989) alto saxophone and piano; Pensive Soliloquy (1997) alto saxophone and piano; Contrasting Inventions (1998) alto and tenor saxophone