John Harbison (1938) through all his music make connections points with the traditional classical music. He also has composed different piece in different jazz styles.“Twilight Music” was written for violin, horn and piano in 1984.


“Twilight Music” (1984) for violin, horn, and piano has the same instrumentation that Bram’s trio op 40 (1865)

John Harbison Twilight music, trio for violin, horn and piano17:21

John Harbison Twilight music, trio for violin, horn and piano

who was the first composer that utilized this instrumentation reason that we can think that Harbison was influenced by Brahms when composing this trio. For example in the first movement Harbison utilized the same intervallic motives. Formally the first movement is in Sonata form with two sections A, and B which appears in the exposition and in the recapitulation.

The horn part is written for horn in F, the violin part is full of trichords or example: in the measures 2 and the beginning of the measure 3. The trichords appear almost in the whole movement, sometimes as a part of the cadencial harmonies for example measures 7, 11 or 14th.

In the development section the part B of the exposition is developed and it is led by the violin and the horn while the pianos just accompany them. By the measure 56 the recapitulation begins and the violin and the horn are switching parts again the perfect 5ths and the tetra chords.


Kernis is comparable with Mel Powell who is another American composer who was born in 1923. Powell wrote a Trio for piano violin and cello  (1972) that can be compared with the “Twilight Music” because both are following the traditional music patrons but the difference is that Powell did not inspired this piece on any composer or piece this is original, serious, ambitious. The first movement is in sonata with the themes and thematic derivations in the exposition, the development section and in the recapitulation Powell changed the themes and its derivations fragmenting them. When it was performed for the first time the New York Times commented: “the twenty minute Trio made a hit with the audience, whose applause brought the composer to his feet several times. And the approbation was well bestowed. It is a very appealing work…”


For me have been interesting to hear his passionate music and his original themes that envolves the audience magically and he has a large diaspora of styles in his compositions.

Works CitedEdit

Seabrook, Mike. “John Harbison and His Music.” Tempo, New Series. No. 197 (Jul, 1996): 7-11.

 Leslie Thimmig. “The Music of Mel Powell.” The Music Quarterly. Vol. 55, No. 1 (1969: 31-44.

 “John Harbison: Twilight music, trio for violin, horn and piano.” YouTube Video. Uploaded by david Sebastian on Jun 15, 2013.

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