Three Portraits of Isabella

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Three Portraits of Isabella page 1.jpg
three portraits of isabella new cover.jpg
Three Portraits of Isabella page 1.jpg

Three Portraits of Isabella

15.00

 Three Portraits of Isabella (2003) for solo piano –14’
–Written for Jeremy Denk in collaboration with the Isabella Gardner Museum
–Premiered December 2003 at the ISGM

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Program Notes

As an Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2003, I lived in an apartment within the museum throughout the year. My residency was mostly in February and March, though, and that winter had record snowfall in Boston. I had a monk-like experience there, cloistered in my little artist’s museum apartment because outside it was snow up to the windows and I really wasn’t going anywhere past the corner store. That suited me just fine; the museum is a place of total inspiration, born out of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s singular vision, and filled with the most unique objects of art presented exactly how she wanted them left. I felt like Mrs. Gardner was in a way my patron, too, though she has been gone for decades. 

Each movement of this work was inspired by paintings of that great woman—musical portraits of portraits. Two of the paintings (the outer movements) are by John Singer Sargent, the other in the middle by Anders Zorn. My goal was to capture that essence of Isabella Gardner as a reflected in these artists’ intimate work. In the first movement’s image, Mrs. Gardner is a young woman—elegant, but radiant with life. The second, she is in Venice—a little older, but illuminated from below to show her great energy of spirit. For the last movement’s image, Mrs. Gardner is pictured just a few years before her death, wrapped in white shrouds as if already a ghost in the world, with the light colors of a silken halo all around her.

 “Three Portraits of Isabella” was commissioned by the Gardner Art Museum in Boston for pianist Jeremy Denk.