Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Robert Greenberg Composition — Lemurs are Afraid of Fossas

With all my recent “talk” about composers and such, I thought it would be appropriate to “walk the walk” and post some more of my music, if only to verify that I am not completely full of cow chips when I presume to assert what composers “are” and “aren’t”.

So I am taking the opportunity to repost a premiere performance of a work for ‘cello and piano entitled “Lemurs are Afraid of Fossas” that took place in San Francisco on April 24, 2012. I originally posted the performance in early May of 2012 when I had about 4 (maybe 5) people following this blog. Thus, I feel okay about doing a repost given my rather larger current readership.

It was a dream premiere, featuring musicians – ‘cellist Monica Scott and pianist Hadley McCarroll – who were talented enough to play everything I wrote and smart enough to figure out what I was trying to say.

Enjoy. (Try to hang on ‘til end. I was very happy with the third movement.)

Movements 1 and 2:

Movement 3:

For your reading pleasure, here is a program note:

I. Predating Game
II. Things That Go Bump in the Night
III. The Shadow Knows . . .

In a musical world filled with self-indulgent titles, Lemurs are Afraid of Fossas is right up there. I beg forgiveness and offer this explanation.

My now six year-old daughter Lillian and her four year-old brother Daniel were, a couple of years ago, most partial to a kid’s TV show created for Nickelodeon called “Go, Diego, Go!” The show features an 8 year-old boy named Diego Márquez, who rescues animals around the world. In an episode we watched together, Diego was tasked with rescuing a lemur: a bug eyed, tree-hopping primate from Madagascar. During the course of the episode, young Diego made a trenchant observation: “Lemurs are afraid of fossas.” (Fossas – pronounced “foosas” – are cat-like carnivores that love to eat lemurs like I love pigs-‘n’-blankets.) My daughter Lillian and I began to sing, back and forth, “Lemurs are afraid of fossas.” So was born the thematic melody that drives the piece, and the dramatic element that underlies the piece.

In the first movement, “Predating Game”, two distinct themes pursue and flee from each other amid a harmonic environment featuring tree-like, vertical sonorities.

The second movement, “Things That Go Bump in the Night”, is an impressionistic passacaglia based on the tree-like sonorities of the first movement.

“The Shadow Know . . .” is a chasing/hunting game (a musical genre once called a “caccia”) in which the piano and violin shadow each other throughout.

Lemurs are Afraid of Fossas was composed between April 29 and June 16, 2011 and was written for and is dedicated to “Martha and Monica”, pianist Hadley McCarroll and ‘cellist Monica Scott.