Fuga sopra FuGArD (after Schumann's Fuga III sopra BACH) (2016)

for string quartet

In honour of Athol Fugard
Duration: c. 3'30"

Programme note

In November 2014, when we were both in residence at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, my friend Athol Fugard went to Japan to receive an award from the Emperor, acknowledging his life’s work as a distinguished playwright. I wanted to honour Athol musically and it occurred to me that his name literally embodied that most noble of musical forms, the fugue. I immediately started reimagining one of Robert Schumann’s organ fugues on the name of Bach, substituting those four musical notenames (B flat-A-C-B natural) for the four in Fugard (F-G-A-D) and transcribing it for string quartet. Other changes I made are mainly rhythmical, to set in relief the name of the new honoree. But it took almost two years – until August 2016 - to solve the puzzle I had set myself.