This work was commissioned by Richard Deering with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain and first performed by him in Amsterdam in October 1982. The pieces were revised in 1993 and are now published in this version.
The title Six Little Piano Pieces has of course been used before, most notably by Schoenberg in his Op. 19 (1911) set. Although my pieces are not in any real sense a homage to that set, they do apply some of the same compositional procedures – compression of form, motivic use of a limited number of pitches, a concentration on timbre and texture, and a reduction of the means of musical expression.
As with Schoenberg’s set, my pieces are not ‘little’ in any other sense than being relatively short. In fact two of the pieces ( 4 and 6) are quite extended and technically demanding, whilst some are whimsical (No. 2) and make use of parody (the quasi-Viennese waltz of No. 5). Two of the pieces were sketched when I was a student, whilst others were sketches for my much larger Piano Sonata in one movement which was completed in 1983. However, I have tried to unify the pieces in a number of ways – most particularly by temporal relationships and the use of common material.
Finally, although I am not a Schoenbergian, it must be said that I do doff my hat in his direction with some admiration in these pieces.