NEIL GLADD - Compositions

Jump to: Chronological list with descriptions

Unfinished / Works in Progress


Performances of my Compositions

Return to the Neil Gladd Home Page

  Favoring Gail - Serenade for Mandolin and Bassoon (2003) 2' ms

  Celtistan's Farewell (2002) [Mand/Cl/melody instrument, Gtr] 1'40" ms

  Canon in D (1978) [3 Vn/Fl, continuo] ms

  Le Tombeau de Scarlatti (1977) 4' Published: NGP 1007
  Premiere Livre de Pieces de Clavecin (1978/80) 10' ms
  Farewell to a Hubbard Harpsichord (1980) 3' Published: NGP 1007

Sonata in F for Horn and Piano (1980/2016) 15' ms NEW

Solo Mandolin:
  Etude (1981) 1' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music
  Lullaby (1978) 1' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music
  Nothing Will Change (2018) 4" ms 
  Partita a Dodici Toni (1982) 10'
Published: NGP 1005  Recorded: PSD 002
  Prelude #1 in G minor (1999) 1' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music
  Preludio in Blue (2018) 4" ms
  Sonata for Solo Mandolin (1983) 13' Published: NGP 1006
  Sonata II for Solo Mandolin (1989) 15' NGP 1001 (in prep)
  Threnody (2001) 1' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music (in prep)
Variations on Arkansas Traveler (2014) Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music

Mandolin and  Guitar:
    Carousel Waltz (2002) 1'30" ms
    Celtistan's Farewell (2002) 1'40" ms
Für Elisa, Choro (2022) [Mand, chord symbols] 2" ms
    Sonata for Mandolin and Guitar (unfinished)

Mandolin Concertos:
  Concerto in G for Mandolin and Strings (1979) (withdrawn)

Mandolin Ensemble:
  The Red Bach Book: 3 Rags After Bach (1982) 8' Published: PSE 001 (Out of print)
   Intrada and Variations (2016) 12'30" ms

    Shut Up (Main Title) (1999) 1'30" ms

  Sonatina (1979) 4'30" ms
  The Red Bach Book: Three Rags After Bach (1980) 8' Published: NGP 1003
       The Ragtime Offering (a Prussian Two-Step)
       The Goldberg Rag
       The Art of the Rag

  Canon in D (1978) [3 Vn/Fl, continuo] ms
  Partita a Dodici Toni (1982) [solo Mand or Vn] 10' Published: NGP 1005, Recorded: PSD 002

Vocal Music:
  Three Songs after Thomas Campion (2002) [Mez-Sop, Mand] Published: NGP 2001
   In The Dark Times (2006) [Mezzo-Sop, Pno] ms
  The Atonal Blues (2009) [Mezzo-Sop, Pno] 3' Published: NGP 2005
  Community Forklift Jingle (2013) lead sheet ms



2 Mandolins
    George King - Yankee Gallop
Published: NGP 2009

Mandolin and Guitar:
     Henry VII - Taunder Naken, ms
     Stravinsky, Igor - Fiddle Music (from Histoire D' Soldat), ms

2 Mandolins and Guitar:
     Couperin, Francois - Les Baricades Misterieuses,
     Scarlatti, Domenico - Sonata in D, ms

Mandolin and Piano:
    Europe, James Reese - Castle House Rag, ms
    Europe, James Reese - Clef Club March, ms
    Sousa, John Philip - Washington Post March Broadcast on "If You Knew Sousa," PBS (1992) YouTube

Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar:
     Couperin, Francois - Les Baricades Misterieuses Recorded: Albany Troy 255
     Stravinsky, Igor - Pastorale, ms

Mandolin Ensemble:
  Confrey, Zez - Kitten on the Keys (almost finished!)
  Gladd, Neil - The Red Bach Book: 3 Rags After Bach (1980/82) 8' PSE 001, Recorded
  Sousa, John Phillip - The Stars and Stripes Forever PSE 014

   Hell to the Thief (Hail to the Chief) 2020

Voice and Mandolin:

   Bizet - Habanera from Carmen
  O Holy Night

Voice, Mandolin and Guitar:
     Stravinsky, Igor - Pastorale, ms

2 Voices, Mandolin and Guitar:
     Joplin, Scott - A Real Slow Drag, from Treemonisha

Chronological List

The Ragtime Offering (a Prussian Two-Step) [Pno] (1976) Published: NGP 1003

    When I went off to college in the Fall of 1973, "The Sting" had recently been released using the music of Scott Joplin in the soundtrack.  It was impossible to walk through the Music building or the Student Center without hearing someone play either The Entertainer or Maple Leaf Rag  in  one of the practice rooms.  At the same time, I was having to analyze a lot of Bach pieces in my theory classes.  This piece is the direct result of overdosing simultaneously on Bach and Scott Joplin.  It was written in as close as I could come to classic rag style, but based on the theme from Bach's Musical Offering.

Le Tombeau de Scarlatti (1977) [harpsichord] 4'  Published: NGP 1007

     I was not a fan of "modern music" until I discovered Domenico Scarlatti.  In 18th century Italy, he was using polytonality, tone clusters, blue notes and chance music. (In some of the extended hand crossing sections, the performer has no idea what note he is going to play next.)  After having played a dozen of his Sonatas, I decided to write my own.  It really only goes one step farther than Scarlatti actually did.

     "very cleverly written and quite witty, and would make a good encore piece" - Igor Kipnis

Canon in D (1978) [3 Vn/Fl, continuo] ms

     Pachelbel goes to Burger King and McDonalds, then takes some Alka Seltzer.  Pachelbel's Canon in D is the  of classical music, and I was already sick of it when a college flute instructor asked me to write a piece for flute ensemble.  It was premiered at Virginia Tech in 1978 with 3 student flute players and myself on harpsichord.  The humor will be lost on those who were not watching too much American television in the late 1970s.

Premiere Livre de Pieces de Clavecin (1978/80) [harpsichord] 10' ms

    In the French Baroque tradition, each movement was a musical portrait of the Virginia Tech music faculty.  I performed it once just before graduating (when it was too late to affect my grades) in 1978.  I later threw out 2 movements and added 2 others in 1980.

Lullaby (1978) [Mand/Vn] 1' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music

    Written as a present for a friend, and not performed until 1995 at the 10th AmGuss, in Rhode Island.

Sonatina (1979) [Pno] 4'30" ms

    Mozart meets Prokofiev, in textbook Sonata form.

Concerto in G for Mandolin and Strings (1979) (withdrawn)

     This is the first composition I started (1974), but it took 5 years to complete.  The style is Vivaldiesque, but with some meter changes, wrong notes, and an unfortunate passage of Baroque Disco. (It was the late 70s.)  It received its first and only performance on November 11, 1979 at the Arlington Central Library in Arlington, VA, my first public concert after graduating from college.  There are still parts of the Concerto that I like, but rewriting a 20 year old piece is usually more difficult than writing a new one.  It may see the light of day again, but for now and for your amusement, I have included just the last movement.

Farewell to a Hubbard Harpsichord (1980) [harpsichord] 3' Published: NGP 1007

     My first entirely serious composition, this was a literal farewell to a Hubbard Flemish kit that I built and had to sell to pay off some debts.  I gave the first performance on November 18, 1982 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.  Although I had a much better harpsichordist there as my accompanist, she was unable to reach the wide spaced chords I had written (most required a tenth).

The Red Bach Book: Three Rags After Bach [Pno](1980) 8' Published: NGP 1003
       The Ragtime Offering (a Prussian Two-Step)
       The Goldberg Rag
       The Art of the Rag

       I had always intended to expand The Ragtime Offering into a set, and I finally wrote its companion pieces in 1980.  The Goldberg Rag uses the harmonies of the Goldberg Variations measure by measure, as well as quotes from Bach's variations.  The Art of the Rag comes closest in style to both Bach and Joplin of the three pieces.  Bach's theme from the Art of the Fugue is heard simultaneously in augmentation and diminution, and during a passage with the theme inverted, the hands are crossed for a visual pun.  There is a short fugato, and in the final measures, the main theme is combined with B - A - C - H.  The first performance was given on December 6, 1981 by Frank Conlon at the Church of the Annunciation, Washington, DC.

    In January of 1982, I first met Norman Levine, and played the rags for him on piano.  He asked me to arrange them for mandolin ensemble (which would never have occurred to me, otherwise), and they became the first work to be published by Plucked String Editions.  That arrangement has been performed many times around the world, and recorded in Germany.  I still like them better on the piano, though!

Etude (1981) [Mand] 1' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music

      After learning my first piece by the 18th century mandolinist, Leoni, I wrote this short piece as an exercise in cross-picking.

Partita a Dodici Toni (1982) [Mand/Vn] 10' Published: NGP 1005, Recorded: PSD 002
     Minuetto I e II

     "Baroque 12-tone music in C with blue notes."  After the performance of my Concerto, one of the string players described it as being a "cute" piece.  I decided that I had greater aspirations than to write "cute" music and parodies, so to get out of a rut, I wrote my first and only 12-tone piece.  It is modeled after the solo violin partitas of Bach, and even though it was composed on the mandolin, it is also playable on the violin, since I limited the techniques required to the areas where mandolin and violin technique overlap.  All of the movements are in Baroque binary form, and sound quasi tonal due to the implied tonic-dominant relationships at the cadences and the use of tradition dance rhythms.  I gave the first performance on November 18, 1982 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

Sonata I for Solo Mandolin (1983) 13' Published: NGP 1006  Recorded: PSD 002 and  La Follia Madrigal LFM 10901

      I have been researching the mandolin's repertoire for as long as I have been playing it.  As a result, I have seen more of the the existing literature than most players, and a lot more than most composers. The goal of my Sonata was to combine the virtuoso mandolin techniques of the 18th and 19th centuries, which I learned from my research,  with the musical language of the 20th century.  My recording of it never made me rich, but it did catch the attention of other composers, who had never heard difficult, modern, idiomatic mandolin writing before, and several wrote pieces for me as a result.

    I gave the first performance on July 8, 1983 at A Festival of Mandolins, in Providence, RI, and played it at most of my recitals for the next five years, in the U.S. and Europe.  Other performances (that I am aware of) have been given by Keith Harris (U.S. and Austria), Gustavo Battista (Puerto Rico), Paul Hooper (Australia), Alison Stephens (U.S. and England) and Masayuki Kawaguchi (Japan).  In September of 2000, Julien Martineau and Mathieu Sarthe each played my Sonata as one of their free selections at an international mandolin competition in Italy. Mathieu Sarthe was the 3rd prize winner, and Julien Martineau, a musicology student at the Sorbonne, has also performed it recently in Paris. A new recording by Florentino Calvo was released in November of 2002 on La Follia Madrigal LFM 10901.

     "compelling, with a songlike second movement followed by particularly robust, propulsive rhythms"

- The Washington Post
     "modalish, well-scored" - The New York Times

      "stunning... The audience sat enthralled by this piece" (performance by Alison Stephens)

- Beckenham Advertiser (England)


Sonata II for Solo Mandolin (1989) 15' Published: NGP 1001 (In preparation)
      Toccata (editing not yet complete)

      I must immodestly state that my Sonata II, and the opening Toccata in particular, is my masterpiece - easily the best thing I've ever written.  It took 5 years to write this 15 minutes of music, and the Fugue was as exhausting to write as it is to play.  It is all based on a short motif that is developed extensively, like my first Sonata, but is technically more difficult.  It uses only traditional techniques, especially the intricate picking patterns of the 18th century virtuosos, but in new combinations and with meter changes.  Much of the Toccata is in 11/16, while the Andante is mostly quarter notes, depending on the harmonies to build intensity.  The Fugue subject is related to Bach's G minor violin fugue, but derived from the same theme as the Toccata.  Once again, I have used the B A C H motif as a counter theme, as well as the chorale tune, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott.

      I gave the first performance of the Toccata on May 18, 1987 at Georgetown University, and of the completed Sonata on June 13, 1989 at the Levine School of Music, both in Washington, DC.  The score has been noteset using Sibelius software, and will be published as soon as I finish the editing.

Prelude #1 in G minor (1999) [Mand] 1' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music

      A short teaching piece written for one of my students, it will eventually be in a collection of short pieces with the Etude and Lullaby above. It's primary significance is that it is the first new piece I had written in 10 years, and got me started writing again.

Shut Up - Main Title (1999) [Organ] 1'30" ms

     When local film maker Sam Serafy asked me about finding a composer for his next film, I did not volunteer as I assumed he was talking about a two hour feature film.  When I found that he only wanted opening credit music for a 10 minute short, I said I would try it and he gave me the script to read.  It is about a couple that goes to the beach, gets rained in for a week, and get on each others nerves (while being "shut up" together).  He wanted a "Coney Island feeling but a little off kilter."  The film has not yet been made, but the music is ready.

Threnody (2001) [Mand] 1'30" Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music
     After the events of September 11, I found it difficult to concentrate on practicing for my October recital tour, so I wrote this short piece in memory of the victims.  This piece can be printed out for free.

Three Songs after Thomas Campion (2002) [Mez-Sop, Mand] 6' Published: NGP 2001   YouTube
     Silly Boy, 'Tis Ful Moone Yet

     So Quicke, So Hot, So Mad
     Shall I Come, Sweet Love, To Thee
      Mandolin and voice is a wonderful combination with not nearly enough repertoire. Thomas Campion appealed to me because he was both a poet and a composer.  He set his own texts with lute accompaniment, so there is already a history of singing them with a plucked instrument.  For the first two songs, I used only his texts and wrote all new music.  I kept Campion's melody for the last song, and just wrote a new accompaniment for the mandolin.  They received their first performance, on June 2, 2002.

Carousel Waltz(1999/2002) [Mand, Gtr] Published: NGP 2007
    This is a mandolin and guitar arrangement of the Shut Up - Main title.  Carousel Waltz was the original title when I first wrote the tune, and looks much better on a concert program. It was premiered on June 2, 2002 with guitarist Steve Smith.

Celtistan's Farewell (2002) [Mand (or melody instrument), Gtr] 1'40" Published: NGP 2008
   In the same spirit as my Three Rags After Bach, I have recomposed an 18th century tune in an entirely different style.  In this case, I took Carolan's Farewell to Music by the Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan, and morphed it into a Middle Eastern dance tune by changing the scale and meter, in addition to generally messing with the melody.  When played for dancers, it can be played with mandolin (or other melody instrument) and drums.  The guitar accompaniment is to be used when it is played as recital music. The inspiration for this piece was my work with the dance ensemble, Celtistan, a group of Middle Eastern dancers whose members are all of either Irish, Scotch, Welsh or English descent (hence the name).

Favoring Gail - Serenade for Mandolin and Bassoon (2003) 2' ms
     Possibly the first duet written for this combination, it was written to play with my friend, Gail Wein.  One of my more laid back and relaxed compositions, and betraying my early years of listening to pop music. I may eventually add a few more movements.

In the Dark Times (2006) [Mez-Sop, Pno] ms
     In the Dark Times
     When It Comes to Marching
     It Is Night
     The Ballad of Paragraph 218

    I started writing this set of songs shortly after the 2004 presidential election. Rather than moving to Canada, I decided to put my outrage at the prospect of a second Bush term into music, and the result was these songs. I found many poems that would have worked from various countries and time periods, but the ones that fit most perfectly were written by Bertolt Brecht, in Germany of the 1930s. The first three are from his German War Primer, and are extremely short, only two or three lines apiece.  The only full length song is The Ballade of Paragraph 218, which had previously been set to music by Hans Eisler. For my setting, I made a conscious effort to channel the music of Brecht's most famous collaborator, Kurt Weill. The songs also owe something to Charles Ives, in the way that they quote snippets of familiar melodies (two popular Texas tunes, and one from Germany.)  Paragraph 218 was the section of German law that made all abortions illegal. Not for any moral reason, but simply because they needed more warm bodies to be soldiers and factory workers. Brecht wrote the poem nearly 80 years ago, to protest a government that was both pro-war and anti-choice. It was premiered on  1/24/09 by Marjorie Bunday and Billie Whittaker.

The Atonal Blues (2009) [Mez-Sop, Pno] Published: NGP 2005 

    Your typical blues song is for someone that has lost their man, their woman, their job, their dog, etc.  This is a blues song for a contemporary music performer that has lost their funding  from the National Endowment for the Arts.  It's sort of a traditional blues song / wrong-note 1920s pop song, but with a lot of tritones, major sevenths,  minor ninths and quotes from Stravinsky and Schoenberg. It was premiered on  1/24/09 by Marjorie Bunday and Billie Whittaker.

Community Forklift Jingle (2013) [lead sheet] 30 seconds ms

I wrote this song for a contest by my favorite store,

Variations on Arkansas Traveler (2014) 3' Published: NGP 1002 Four Centuries of Solo Mandolin Music

Written as a birthday present for my Arkansas girlfriend.

Sonata in F for Horn and Piano (1980/2016) 15' ms

  Ostinato Moderato

    The 1st and 3rd movements were virtually complete by 1980.  I completed them in 2015, and they were premiered by Wendy Chinn on September 27, 2015. I finally finished the 2nd movement in 2016, and Wendy gave the first performance of the complete Sonata on April 18, 2016 at the Vienna Baptist Church, in Vienna VA.

Intrada and Variations (2016) [Mandolin Ensemble] 12'30" ms
   Variations on Chester

    The Intrada had been composed many years ago but never performed, as I could not decide on the best instrumentation for it. I had already started to arrange it for mandolin orchestra when I was named Composer-in-Residence for the Classical Mandolin Society of America for 2016, so I finished the orchestration and used it for the first movement. The second movement consists of 7 variations on Chester by William Billings (1746-1800), and was inspired in part by the Variations on America by Charles Ives. They are mostly written to be fun, but with a little bit of polytonatity thrown in. The premiere was given at the CMSA convention in Philadelphia in November.

Preludio In Blue (2018) [Solo Mand] 4" ms

    Calace meets Gershwin. This is mostly a parody of Calace's second prelude, with Gershwinesque harmonies, and just enough short quotes to reference Gershwin's most famous composition.

Für Elisa, Choro (2022) [Mand, chord symbols] 2" ms

   Cowritten with Ludwig van Bandolim.

Nothing Will Change (2022) [Solo Mand] 2" ms

    Written the day after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas

Unfinished / Works in Progress

If you would like to hurry one of these pieces along, I am open to accepting commissions!

Concertino for 2 Mandolins and Guitar

     I had written several fragments for this piece in the late 80s, but could never decide what the instrumentation should be.  I tried to make it a quartet, but there just wasn't enough for four instruments to do, so it became a trio.  Unlike the Sonata with guitar below, I am keeping this piece much easier technically, so that students can play it.  The style owes much to Neo-Classic Stravinsky. 3/16/03 - I have written the beginning of the third movement.  It began as a duo for mandolin and guitar, but in this case, I decided that it needed an additional instrument.

Concerto II for Mandolin and String Quartet

      I've written the opening tutti and first solo section for the first movement, and half of a slow movement.  This will be a much more serious and intense piece than my first concerto.

Sonata for Mandolin and Guitar


     Mandolin and guitar duos are currently the most popular performing unit in the classical mandolin world.  Each instrument has its own virtuoso solo repertoire going back for centuries, yet when most composers combine them, they revert to giving the mandolin a simple melody line and the guitar an accompaniment.  The goal of my Sonata is to use the soloistic capabilities of both instruments at the same time.  I have posted the opening as a sample.

Sigr, Leone: His Boogie [Solo Mand]

     Begun in 2018.

Return to the Neil Gladd Home Page