Today I’m introducing you to Alexander Claussen, a pianist and composer from Atlanta in the United States. Alexander comes from a classical performance background and just recently “made the jump” to composing his own pieces for classical piano.
Making that jump was not the easiest thing to do. I could play concertos with orchestras but as soon as I had to come up with something that wasn’t written on sheet music, I would be totally lost!
The song Raindrops say goodbye is released as a single, but will also be featured on the EP In the woods which will be out some time November of 2019.
Tell us something about your track Raindrops say goodbye!
This track came directly from the melody of Chopin’s raindrop prelude, one of his more well known works (also the name of the track borrows from Chopin as well). I keep hearing from people this track makes them feel like they are in a relaxed upscale restaurant or hotel, which did come as a surprise to me. Maybe I’d be a decent cocktail pianist! The Raindrop prelude comes from Chopin’s Preludes Op. 28 published in 1839. There are 24 preludes in this set, and several of them are quite well known so even readers unfamiliar with the classical piano repertoire will have heard them.
This track very much epitomizes what I’m trying to do as a composer, which is build on the classical tradition in a fresh, personal way. In this track you hear the melody almost exactly as it appeared originally, but the overall approach (harmonies, rhythm, timing, touch, etc) give it a much different feeling that what Chopin originally wrote. There is a long history in classical of honoring previous works, for example Franz Liszt did all sorts of adaptations of operas and symphonies to solo piano works (one example being his Concert Paraphrase on Verdi’s Rigoletto). Of course this kind of thing is not unique to classical music; it is essential in jazz and happens in pop music a lot too.
Not everything I compose borrows directly in this way. In other words in this track the melody is repeated almost verbatim, but I usually am starting fresh with a somewhat clear slate when composing. However, the influence of my years performing the classical repertoire comes through in my other works despite not borrowing exact chord changes or melodies from other pieces. I think this will be quite apparent on the tracks on my upcoming EP.
Thank you for sharing this with us Alexander!