One of the most powerful and enduring images in memory for fans of science fiction movies of this generation has been the lengthening trails of starlight, stretching into the blackness of space when a ship accelerates to warp speed. For a few seconds reality is elongated into a fantasy light show, and one gets the impression of compressed time in space. I have often thought that it might be possible to perform a kind of accelerated style journey from the past in a piece of music so that the themes start by sounding like J. S. Bach and end up sounding like Philip Glass for example, preserving the essential musical materials of pitch and rhythm.
After... is a set of four character pieces for solo piano that are built on the notion of stylistic modulation. The premise is that if art truly reflects the society within which it is created, maybe a piece of art can dynamically represent the succession of societies like a musical time machine. Of course, one would have to avoid the obvious linear historical path or predictability. Each of the four pieces begins "in the manner of" a great composer of the past: J.S. Bach, Frederick Chopin, Richard Wagner, and Modest Mussorgsky. In each case the musical materials are given the "time warp" treatment so that they are expanded, fragmented, and bent into newly recognizable shapes. After... is a companion piece to my Composers' Reminiscences which is a set of pieces for solo violin. However, the latter piece treats stylistic reference as a distant and nostalgic memory, like an artifact in a museum. The materials in After... are initially more infused with contemporary seimotics. Although no direct quotations from works of the composers cited are used, because that technique would summon up a specific reference that might already be in the mind of the listener, the `Wagner" movement contains material that I used in Uncle Sigmund Goes to the Opera, a comic skit; and, the "Mussorgsky" movement has a gesture that obliquely recalls the coronation scene from Boris Godunov.