Victor Frost was born in Port Jefferson, New York in 1952. He resides in New York City, where he is highly regarded as performer on piano and organ, composer and arranger, and teacher. His catalogue includes opera and other music for the theater, orchestral works, chamber music, and numerous solos, some of a pedagogical nature. It also features choral numbers and songs, both sacred and secular. He studied composition with Charles Dodge and Myron Fink, organ with Flor Peeters and Calvin Hampton, and piano with George Roth and Jon Klibonoff.

Pleroma Music, after the novel Radix (Attanasio), for piano quartet, op. 41

1. The music begins with the Nothungs chasing Sumner. It cuts to the desert trek abruptly at (00:59). The still point, viola solo is heard at (02:08). Soon (03:27), the music accelerates back into the chase tempo in a climactic fugato (03:47) in which the Nothung theme is heard both rightside-up and upside-down. The chase and desert musics alternate for the remainder of the movement.

2. Assia's theme is heard first (06:47). Soon is heard Jac's melody (08:40). The Nobu countermelody with it is heard at (09:13). The chromatic fourths "going vertical" are first heard at (09:25).

3. First (12:18), the struggle between the two tonalities. Corby's ostinato is at (12:43). The music drops to half tempo (13:31) in anticipation of Jeanlu's cantilena (14:06). The melodic "dollop" I mention, which generates the movement's coda later, is right at (15:29). A tranquil three-note ascending scale (heard first back at 15:11) is abruptly sped up (16:12) into a passage that links back to the opening tempo and theme (the sudden turning of a corner I mention), which had used and uses again the very same figure, albeit to very different effect. The clinching coda commences at (16:55).

4. Nothing need be said about the berceuse except that it begins at (17:33).

I was privileged to be acquainted with A.A. Attanasio, the author of the science fiction tome Radix, when he was still at work on the novel, and its publication by Morrow in August of 1981 was a signal event for all of us in his circle of friends. The critical and public reaction to the work, set thirteen centuries into Earth's future, was duly ecstatic. The story line is so long and involved and the list of characters and the permutations some of them pass through so redoubtable that a standard movie adaptation was quite out of the question. Even today I doubt that it could be done. But someone approached the author with the possibility of an animated setting, whereupon he turned eagerly to me, as the person he deemed most likely to underscore the cartoon in a manner sympathetic with the novel's world view. Or should I say, universe view? Or, multiverse view?

I was naïve enough at the time to believe that a pitch of this ilk was likely to come to fruition. There are always people out there with ideas. Sometimes rights are bought up just to make sure that no-one else makes good on a given idea! And only a babe in the woods like me would think that the suits would go for an unknown composer whose best friend shared an office with the novelist's wife. In my own defense I'll point out that 1983 was looking to be a banner year for me. There was talk of a recording of some of my vocal music; performances of my music were abounding, especially the works freshest from my pen; I even got a commission to write an opera, and started working closely with my librettist.

I did not know that the circumstances that combined that year constituted a fluke. I thought that this was what my future would be like, but actually I have never had a year anything like that since. So between the fact that I seemed to be becoming a force to be reckoned with, and fear that I might be too busy or just creatively spent to do the film score justice when the contract arrived, I went ahead with my underscoring project. That's what I told myself at the time, anyway. In retrospect, I was probably bent as well on communing artistically with the author. OneWith, as the novel's third person narrator calls it, when characters communicate telepathically and prevail against all odds.

I was practical enough to write in short score, until such time as the performing forces I would be using were contractually stipulated. Soon, though, things started to unravel. Until this writing, I have never admitted that each one of my works from opus 43 to opus 47 contains at least one motif that was under consideration for the Radix project. (Opus 42, on the other hand, involved material indigenous to a documentary film, which was indeed released, although only as a short.) By the end of the 1983 "banner year," reality had set in: there would be no Radix cartoon, with music by me or anybody else. I decided to use the remaining materials in another work, which I somehow convinced myself would be free as well. I guess it was my having dipped into the Radix storage vault for all those other, independent works that encouraged me to think in such terms about the present work as well. This sophistry, combined with the embarrassment I felt in having performed so much labor peremptorily to no avail, persuaded me to leave any reference to the novel out of the picture until now. The fact is that the music that remained in the foundry, after all those incursions I made upon it for works from 1982 and 1983, did so because the music was associated in my mind so very closely with scenes and characters out of Attanasio's novel. Everything else, music which suggested itself only tangentially, had by this juncture been used up in one way or another.

The good thing about my self deception that I was embarking upon free composition is that it allowed me to "free" associate in a manner I might not have done otherwise. I noticed, for example, that the breathless music in 5/8 I wrote for the opening chase, in which the teen-aged Sumner Kagan lures the Nothung gang to their acidic end, had something in common with the static music for the slow trek Ardent Fang and the seer Drift make through the desert to consult their avatar Bonescrolls. The former music consists of relentless, quick eighth notes; the latter, relentless, sustained quarters. I decided to try combining the two in a new kind of perpetual motion in which the two impulses alternate meaningfully. All the transitions are abrupt and unexpected, except one in which the desert music quarter accelerates into the chase eighth, where however the Nothung theme is presented in inverted form as the subject for a furious fugato. Thus was a link forged convincingly between two such disparate musics. So, the present music would never have appeared in any film in its current form (timeloose, it would be called in the novel, actually). Only post production synthesis and development would have made such a juxtaposition possible or even sensible.

1. DISTORTS. But now I realize, Ardent, Drift, Bonescrolls, the members of the Nothung gang, are all distorts, severe genetic mutations caused by the breakdown of the Earth's magnetic field. I also see now that I allowed whole tone harmony, inflected by melodic chromaticism, to impel both speeds of music. In the movement's one brief patch of repose, the viola intones a motive limited to three successive notes. These are all a whole tone apart, suspending tension on one hand, but also any sense of tonal centrality on the other.

2. GODMINDS. I always realized that this music was about the two godminds Assia and Jac, who take centuries to come to cosmic consciousness while unfortunately the world they are transcending is, unbeknownst to them, in chaos. But their development ends up being necessary after all, since their refined techniques prove to be instrumental in saving the world at novel's end. The melody in tenths between violin and 'cello I associate with Assia; the later piano or viola solo is Jac. A third theme combines crudely with Jac's one, but that happened only in post production, so I can only suppose that Nobu's influence is being felt here. Against the Assia theme, the piano plays bare fourths. This interval is also prominent in Jac's melody. Later these thematic fourths are developed into a representation of what the book calls "going vertical": using cosmic passageways to more rarefied realms of being.

3. VOORS. A restless motive wavers between the tonalities B and C, the way these alien, timeloose beings are here and yet not quite here. The tribal distorts are often timeloose as well, and the connection is underscored as we re-encounter the whole tones (B, C-sharp and D-sharp) we heard back in the first movement's viola solo. These are the first three scale degrees of B major, which is trying to establish itself against the C major tonality that is vying with it for primacy. But the vortex of this struggle moves the music up one more whole step, to F (or E-sharp, if you must), thus obliterating any sense of tonal stability (or repose, as I put it above); the pitch attained does not relate centrally to either of the struggling keys. After a confused pause, violent ostinato gestures underscore Corby's implacable determination to destroy the force that has been systematically oppressing his brood, the voors. That force is known as the Delph, who is, truth to tell, not particularly evolved as godminds go. But Corby, the "killing voor," has a beautiful and serene mother Jeanlu, aptly depicted in the movement's contrasting trio over tranquil, grounding open fifth drones by the cello. A little melodic dollop, heard only in the half cadence of this formal section, is later sped up to launch the movement's pointedly stabilizing coda. Here the elusive B tonality is squarely tacked down with fourteen reiterations of the tonic pitch.

4. ETH. In the novel's last few pages, our hero Sumner Kagan retreats into himself, after fulfilling his destiny as eth by destroying the artificial (but deadly) intelligence Rubeus, quite the last trace of the Delph's influence in human affairs. Sumner fashions a voor musical instrument out of nearby natural materials, and discovers his latent improvisatory voice. The first work he inscribes is the right hand primo part, in five finger position mind you, of the Berceuse from my opus 9 Suite for piano, four hands. (This was the novelist's choice, appearing in a reproduction of my hand on page 445.) I naturally adapted this tender number as part of my original short score notes, but I have suppressed this arrangement until now.

Radix is Latin for root, and the novel emphasizes mankind's rootedness in the earth, in the bloodline, and in unconscious racial experience. As many times as I have reread the book over the past two decades, I seem to have missed its most essential point. The music here (except of course for the Berceuse) represented a final distillation of motives wrought directly from the experience of Attanasio's inner world. It needs its origins to be acknowledged, something I was heretofore too embarrassed and proud to do, masking of course sadness and resentment that the composition would never perform its originally intended function. Sigh.

I recently had a look at the Berceuse amplification in my yellowing manuscript. I began to hear the music in a genre unrepresented in my œuvre until now, piano quartet. Admittedly, I might have been influenced by the fact that opus 42 is for flute and string trio, and that my opus 27 string trio was recently recorded expertly by Russian musicians. I had tried the other music (the present movements 1 through 3) in different genres over the years, but was never satisfied with the result. The music is in fact my only unperformed work from around that time, primarily because I never formally released it. By adapting now all four movements for piano and string trio, I release it in the way master Bonescrolls would charge me to do. So that it will release me in turn.

There was no question of adapting the program note sketches I had made when misrepresenting this as absolute music all those years. I just reread them and was aghast. It was the only time I ever indulged in the "this happens and then this happens" species of what passes for musical scholarship. I did like one line though, concerning what I now acknowledge as my voors music: we are on the same journey, but have abruptly turned a corner. My sense of the novelist's coinage "pleroma music" is that we are talking about a classy (and possibly medicinally salubrious) variety of Muzak. Be that as it may, I can't resist using the term for my current restoration project. Acknowledging my "roots," I dig right into the core!

The music has always been dedicated to the lifelong friend I met in 1983, Walter Paul.

Victor Frost 3 VI 04 New York, New York