About Broken River Variations
At the park on Mud Island in Memphis, TN, there’s a beautiful scale model of the entire Mississippi River, with water from the river itself running through the model. It includes all of the river’s tributaries, and all of the places where the current has bent the river so far that slices of it have broken off to form narrow lakes.
This piece’s theme, which is only played in its entirety for the first five quarter beats, is similarly broken into independent sections. Each variation takes a small slice of the theme and builds it into its own musical idea.
There are three versions of this piece:
- Violin, cello, piano
- Violin, viola, piano
- Violin, Bb clarinet doubling bass clarinet, piano
The violin and piano parts are identical between the three.
A couple years after finishing Broken River Variations I ended up expanding it into the orchestral piece can’t step in the same river twice.