Paul Creston’s Dance Overture: Celebratory Variations

The music of the American composer, Paul Creston (1906-1985), is filled with sunny harmonies, lush tonal colors, and rhythmic vitality.

Creston was born in New York City to Sicilian immigrant parents. Baptized Giuseppe Guttoveggio, he changed his name, selecting “Creston” after a character he played in a high school drama. As a composer, he was entirely self-taught. Through the study of scores, he considered his teachers to be Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin, Debussy, and Ravel. Creston’s catalogue includes six symphonies, numerous concerti, and works for band. Many of his pieces feature instruments that have been underrepresented in the solo repertoire, such as the marimba, saxophone, and trombone.

The Dance Overture, Op. 62 was written in 1952 in response to a commission from the National Federation of Music Clubs. It was premiered in December of that year at the organization’s Miami convention. Throughout the piece, a single theme develops through a series of celebratory variations, each of which are based on a distinct dance form. First, we hear a sunny Spanish bolero, complete with castanets. This is followed by an English country dance and a French loure, a slow gigue with lilting dotted rhythms. The climax arrives in the final section with an American square dance which brings the piece to a rollicking conclusion.

This recording features conductor David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Based in New York’s state capital, the ensemble has been long dedicated to recording a rich assortment of repertoire by sometimes neglected twentieth century American composers. Early in my career, I performed as a substitute/extra musician in the violin section of the Albany Symphony, and I have fond memories of this recording session:


  • Creston: Dance Overture, Op. 62, David Alan Miller, Albany Symphony Orchestra

Featured Image: photograph by Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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