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David Heyes

Eric Funk: A Little Dance Suite (Hertl Remembered) for double bass & piano

Eric Funk: A Little Dance Suite (Hertl Remembered) for double bass & piano

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About the Composition

A Little Dance Suite is colorful and inventive, offering musical and technical challenges in equal measure, and is aimed at the intermediate bassist. The accompaniments are independent and supportive, allowing the solo bass to weave legato and cantabile phrases throughout the middle register of the instrument.

Table of Contents

1. Česká

Česká, the first movement of my Little Suite (Malá Teceční Svita, Op.174) draws upon Czech music generally as a means to honour the life of František Hertl. Because my principle mentor and dear friend Tomáš Svoboda was Czech my years as his student brought into my awareness the imbedded nationalism of all Czech music. The phrasing and hemiolas in Czech folk music is very different from western Germanic traditions and stands alone. Each of these short miniatures seeks to capture another refraction of the jewel of Hertl’s life and music.

2. Valčík

This waltz is a good test of creating a very smooth wavelike legato in the accompaniment. The bass sound is rich and clear, capitalising on simple, triple metre over compound duple (3/4 and 6/8) and through hemiolas feeling as if numerous 2/4 bars exist over the 3/4 undulating left hand. It’s a nod to Hertl, Czech folk music, and I hope a pleasure to listen to.

3. Furiant

Furiant translates literally to “loud mouth” but listening to Hertl’s miniature with the same title I took it to mean “pushy, aggressive”. I used complex irregular metre shifts and a more modern dance style music to capture Hertl’s sometimes surprising musical grammar.

4. Taneček

Tanaček means “dance”. I opted to showcase some of Hertl’s “jazz influence” and created this in 12/8, but as if each bar has four 3/8 jazz waltz measures within. I kept the density thin and almost simple two-part counterpoint. And I made a lot of Hertl’s expressive, emotional, and highly intelligent music.

Hertl Remembered

2023 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the Czech bassist-composer-conductor František Hertl (1906-1973). Hertl composed a number of impressive works for double bass including a Sonata for double bass and piano, which is arguably the finest sonata in our repertoire, and in the late 1960s or early 1970s he composed a series of 30 Miniatures for double bass and piano, aimed at conservatoire level bassists, which are little known today. Each is colourful and inventive, combining musical and technical skills in tandem, with supportive accompaniments which add character and distinction.

Hertl Remembered is a project to create a new series of 30 Miniatures in memory of František Hertl. The composers who took part in Hertl Remembered are David Heyes (UK), Eric Funk (USA), Michael Montgomery (USA), Peter Byrom-Smith (UK), Luis Guillermo Perez (Venezuela), P. Kellach Waddle (USA), John Alexander (UK), Christopher Field (UK) & Lourdes C. Montgomery (Cuba/USA).

About the Composer

Eric Funk (b.1949) has composed 170 major works, one third of which were commissioned, including nine symphonies, four operas, nineteen concertos, six string quartets, numerous large and small choral works and chamber works.

His music has been recorded and performed by Warsaw Philharmonic, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Moscow String Quartet, Moyzes String Quartet, Elizabeth Croy (soprano), Gregory Young (clarinet) and the Meritage String Quartet.

In 2018 he was received an Emmy Award for Best Music Composition as part of the six Emmy Awards given for the Montana PBS/Scott Sterling documentary "The Violin Alone", the 2018 American Prize in Composition "Best Concerto of the Year" (Variations on a Theme by Jan Hanus for Violin & String Orchestra), and the leading international 2018 Global Music Award with two gold medals for classical music and composition for his Piano Concerto No.1. Eric Funk teaches at the School of Music at Montana State University (USA).

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