Detail from Saint Augustine was composed in July 1985 for Rodney Slatford and his Mini-Bass Project in Britain, and was revised in 2010 by David Heyes. The one movement quartet offers a range of musical and technical challenges for the good intermediate quartet, abounding in magical textures and timbres. Careful attention should be paid to the range of dynamic and articulation markings.
The title is taken from a book about Gothic paintings. One illustration of St. Augustine, which also included a 'detail of a portion of this work' was the starting point for the quartet. The composer uses a rich palette of colours, well suited to the range of the double bass quartet, and the melodic interest is passed from player to player.
Detail from Saint Augustine is a work of great imagination, atmosphere, textures and timbres. There is much of interest for each player, with meandering and evocative contrapuntal lines helping to create a bass quartet like no other. The contrasts of arco and pizzicato, sul tasto and harmonics, maintain interest for players and audiences alike.
Robert Moran was born in 1937 and was raised in Denver, Colorado. He studied composition with Apostel, Berio and Milhaud and co-founded the San Francisco New Music Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the mid-1960s, culminating with an evening of his works given by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1974. Soon after he moved to West Berlin, as composer-in-residence for the German government and composed many commissions, including his thre city-piece, 'Pachelbel Promenade' for the city of Graz in Austria.
In 1977 Robert Moran returned to America as composer-in-residence at Northwestern University in Chicago. His work 'Waltz in Memoriam: Maurice Ravel' was the start of a collaboration with Robert Helps to put together a collection of 25 piano waltzes from 25 composers, including works by Babbitt, Cage, Glass, Helps, Moran and Sessions. The entire collection was premiered in 1978 and recorded in 1981.
Moran's work on the waltz project eventually led to further collaboration with Philip Glass in 1985 with the opera 'The Juniper Tree'. Having lived in Philadelphia for many years, Robert Moran has written many significant works including several operas - 'Desert of Roses' (Houston Grand Opera), 'From the Towers of the Moon' (Minnesota Opera), a chamber opera 'The Dracula Diary' (Houston Grand Opera) and 'Alice' a ballet based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for Scottish Ballet.
Robert Moran has also composed two other works for double bass - 'Apparition' for 20 double basses and 'Tango Neurotica' for 8 double basses.