On today’s date in 1998, this chamber work by the American composer Katherine Hoover received its premiere at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Hoover’s Piano Quintet, entitled “Quintet Da Pacem,” was a commission from the New Jersey Chamber Music Society. Hoover explained the work’s Latin title, “Da Pacem” or “Give Us Peace,” as follows:
“Sometime in the 1960s, I came across a simple, lovely canon by a 17th century composer named Christoph Demantius: ‘Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris,’ or ‘Give us peace, Lord, in our time.’ Both the music and the sentiment continued to haunt me, for I would occasionally use the piece in sight-singing classes I taught back then, where it would be sung by vigorous young men the same age as thousands who had been drafted to suffer and die in Vietnam and elsewhere. At some point I began to think about structuring a large work around this canon, one whose parts would all be related in various ways. This is the piece that developed from that idea.”
Toward the end of her Quintet, Hoover sets the canon melody in the styles of successive periods of music, thereby reflecting mankind’s long search for peace.
Katherine Hoover was born in Elkins, West Virginia, in 1937, and after studies at Eastman and the Manhattan School of Music, pursued a career as a freelance flutist, composer, and conductor. She’s written a number of solo and chamber works for her own instrument, the flute, as well as larger-scale orchestral pieces.