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Bonsai (2017)

For Solo Violin

8 minutes


Commissioned and premiered by Francesca Anderegg.

Program Notes

Bonsai is my first attempt at writing a work for solo violin. As a former violinist, I have played several movements from Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas: I was inspired, but also intimidated by this repertoire. For this piece, I decided to take inspiration from all of the violinists in my family. 


My wife Francesca Anderegg is a virtuoso violinist who had the opportunity to play a newly commissioned piece in one of her recitals. My brother, also a violinist, loves bonsai trees and used them as decorations at his wedding. 

The practice of bonsai, the Asian art form of cultivating tiny trees, influenced the structure of the work: I wanted it to feel like a miniature tree with branches of material developing into a wondrous tapestry of violin sounds. The arpeggios at the beginning lead to a short two-voice chorale texture that functions as the trunk of the tree, and connects the varying sections of the piece. The piece alternates between these arpeggios and rhythmically exciting sections before it results in a virtuosic coda. This piece represents how a family grows and changes over time through marriage, changing and adapting, but always tied to its roots.

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