Grosse Tugenden, 2003 (17′)
for violin, viola, and cello
In Bertold Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children,” the title character, Mother Courage, says that the invocation of “great virtues” (Grosse Tugenden) to justify various deeds is a sure sign that something is wrong. This skepticism is as warranted today, especially in light of recent events, as it was in Brecht’s time, or in 17th-century Sweden, where “Mother Courage” takes place. Grosse Tugenden was not written with these political ideas in mind, but it was written during a time in our national life when such ideas were impossible to set aside, and thus my own grappling with the concepts of virtue and heroism come through in this composition. Ultimately, I believe Grosse Tugenden to be a a piece about finding one’s way as a morally just individual in a world where morality is often defined by one’s willingness to submit, to acquiesce, and to accept a set of prepackaged, institutionalized virtues. If the work comes across as quite tragic, that is due to its being an honest representation of the world, from my perspective. If the work seems hopeful, it is for the same reason.