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Laughter Through Tears by DAVID BRUCE

Instrumentation Double concerto for (klezmer) clarinet, violin and string orchestra
Durationc.21 mins
World PremiereTBC
ComposedMarch-May 2010

Programme Note

This piece is inspired by the sound of the klezmer clarinet, which I think of as being full of weeping and laughter. I have often inter-linked laughter and tears in my own music and when I was thinking of this piece I was reminded of Shostakovich's famous quote about Jewish music:

"Jewish folk music has made a most powerful impression on me. I never tire of delighting in it, it's multifaceted, it can appear to be happy while it is tragic. It's almost always laughter through tears. This quality of Jewish folk music is close to my ideas of what music should be. There should always be two layers in music. Jews were tormented for so long that they learned to hide their despair. They express despair in dance music. "

My third movement of my piece has this idea Shostakovich talks about - it is full of laughter, but has an undercurrent of darkness. The second is however the reverse - it is music which seems to be sad but is also 'secretly happy', or 'enjoying the sadness' at least a little bit, it's a sort of black humour. Finally (in reverse order), the first momement is more of a straight-forward lament, with very little 'light' in it yet. So in a way you could say 'Laughter Through Tears' expresses the shape of the piece, we start in the first movement with tears, the tears gain an undercurrent of laughter in movement 2, and in movement 3 we finally hear the laughter expressed through those tears.

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