River Song: Remembering Dennis Abelson (2007) for solo horn was composed in memory of Dennis
R. Abelson, horn performer and teacher who died on September 1, 2007 at the age of 56 after a
protracted battle with cancer. Abelson served as long-time professor of horn at Carnegie Mellon
University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The work is inscribed "in memory of Dennis Abelson and for his
many students and friends to remember him."
Dennis commissioned two works from me for the Carnegie Mellon Horn Choir and was always
encouraging and interested in what I was doing with his instrument. He leaves behind a very
distinguished legacy of horn students who have held many significant orchestra and teaching
positions throughout the world. When one heard Dennis talk about his students (both current and
former), it was immediately obvious how much he rejoiced in their successes and achievements.
This work is founded upon the pitches of D and A, taken from the initial letters of Abelson's names.
It is a rhapsodic elaboration of that basic material &ndash, as the melodic material is constantly developed
and expanded. The "river" of the title refers both to the flowing character of the music's
development and to the three rivers of Pittsburgh, the city in which Abelson spent his entire life.