A few months ago I got an email, through the contact page of my blog, from a Steve Offutt, whom I had never heard of. Here's the text.
I serendipitously met someone at the post office in Arlington, VA who shared your performance of the Emerson Meyers Clarinet Sonata with me. I liked it a lot–both the music and the performance. Sounds challenging, but I’d love to a take a shot at working some or all of it up. Do you have the music or know where I can get a copy?
I had not heard of Emerson Meyers or his Sonata, and so wrote back that he must be mistaken. He responded.
Thanks. I have a recording in which a David Thomas played with pianist Bonnie Kellert at a concert on May 4, 1986 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. I googled you, but your name is not exceptionally unusual (although how many high caliber clarinetists named David Thomas are there, I wonder?) Do you know of any other David Thomases who play clarinet who might have been the clarinetist at that concert? I'm attaching the third movement. At the end there is an announcer's voice mentioning the name David Thomas.
I listened to the recording, and was impressed with the piece and the performance. I lived in Washington, DC in 1986, when it was performed at the National Gallery of Art concerts series. I soloed quite a bit around DC during that period, while playing Principal with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, whose schedule was not all that busy.
The playing in the recording is familiar, along with the warm up and the throat clearing before the performance began. The composer was the pianist with the National Symphony; the pianist, Bonnie Kellert, a graduate of Peabody Conservatory, which I attended from 1978-80. My teacher from Peabody, Sidney Forrest, probably knew both of them.
The pianist's playing is impressive, and I hope I complimented her at the time. But my memory of the event has not fully returned.
I'm including the recording below for your listening enjoyment.
How strange and wonderful that this obscure but delightful piece, and a recording of that performance with me playing, would pop up 22 years later! I think it's a great piece and should be published, if the parts can be located. I'm working on that.
The only information I have is from the announcer at the end of this recording, who states this Sonata for Clarinet and Piano was written in 1946 for his good friend Paul Garrett, and revised in 1958.
I did a little digging about the man. Apparently, Emerson Meyers was quite a figure in the Washington area, known equally as pianist, teacher and composer. He also left literally a mountain of writings (14 cubic feet), a few pages of which are quoted and summarized HERE.
To see the full text of his lengthy obituary in the Washington Post from 1990, I had to buy access. Ah, technology; liberation, for a price! The brunt of that obit is at the following link- Emerson Meyers- Pianist, Techer, Composer- 1910-1990.
PS- Randy Foster emailed me with a few things he found. The "google books" listing above is sold at Amazon, and the whole thing is browsable on Amazon's site. Here is the link to that. Check out page 306, where the whole program I played is listed!