It was on this day in 1972 that “A Ring of Time” by American composer Dominick Argento was premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis. The work was commissioned to celebrate that orchestra’s 70th anniversary. “A Ring of Time” is subtitled “Preludes and Pageants for Orchestra and Bells,” and evokes the hours of the day, from dawn to midnight, and the seasons of the year.
Though born in York, Pennsylvania, Argento was of Italian heritage, and after spending a year studying in Italy, returned there often to reflect and compose. Argento said: “On one level the title of ‘A Ring of Time’ refers to the predominant role assigned to bells... those aural signals of time’s passing. But it should also be mentioned the work was wholly composed in Florence where the hourly ringing of church bells is inescapable.”
Bells figured prominently in another 20th-century work by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu entitled “From Me Flows What You Call Time,” which was premiered by the Boston Symphony in 1990, in New York City, as a commission to celebrate the centennial of Carnegie Hall. Again, bells play a significant role, and Takemitsu directs that at the end of his piece, a series of small bells be rung gently from the balcony above and around the audience.
Music Played in Today's Program
Dominick Argento (b. 1927)A Ring of TimeMinnesota Orchestra; Eiji Oue, cond.Reference 91
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)From Me Flows What You Call TimePacific Symphony; Carl St. Clair, cond.Sony 63044