Belgian Bliss, a 20 minute fantasy on the Mendelssohn Wedding March, was written in celebration of the marriage of my dear composer friend, Tom Cipullo. His new wife, Hedwig Brouchaert, is from Ghent, Belgium where in a blissful setting, with this composer as best man, the ceremony was performed. This was July, 2010.
The fantasy begins in an amiable fashion with sunny scale figures moving through the instruments (a musical metaphor for early marriage bliss?). Before long the first statement of the Wedding March is presented energetically and forte in the horn. As the music calms a flute cadenza leads to a Molto Allegro Fugue, the subject of which is, of course, the Mendelssohn tune.
Eventually the music comes to a long pause, whereupon the piece’s opening music recommences. This time though it develops differently and rises - with the Mendelssohn in tow - to a substantial climax before receding into a soft, minor key, flutter-tongued variation of the opening melody.
The music continues to ebb and flow in a capricious, fantasy-filled way. But with the arrival of the horn’s high C - repeated 10 times - there is little doubt that the climax has been achieved. In the quiet coda a fresh bit of the March’s Trio section is quoted in the oboe. Again the music picks up energy and speed – plunging headlong now to its conclusion - but not before the fortissimo Coda of the Mendelssohn March is suddenly and climactically cut into the texture. The horn then, in ecstatic ascent, rises to a stratospheric high E as the piece ends triumphantly.
Belgian Bliss was commissioned by and dedicated to the Dorian Wind Quintet. This commission has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Commissioning Program, with funding generously provided by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.