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kith

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Others in the series:

The Transience of Life (…
Postcards from Prague
In Memoriam
Hommage a Frantisek Post…
The Last Summer (Hommage…
Hommage a Frantisek Posta
Waltz Poem Basso
Thoughts for Times Past…
Sonatina - In Memoriam F…
Trochu Rondo Op.141

The Frantisek Posta Heritage Series series

Frantisek Posta (1919-1991) was Principal Double Bass of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for more than 40 years and was the leading Czech bassist of his generation. He was much admired and revered around the world and commissioned and transcribed many works for double bass.


This composition, kith, is about two geographies, two cultures, one friendship. Originally, the Old English word 'kith' meant a person's home, or native land, referring more specifically to a knowledge of and a frequent contact with the natural outdoors: woods, moors, streams, mountains, shores and such like. In more recent social history, 'kith' has become a familiar term to mean friends, as in the commonly used alliterative phrase 'kith and kin' to denote 'friends and relatives'. In this one movement work for unaccompanied double bass, 'kith' is freely combined in both of the above given senses, of geography – place – and human friendship, with the two friends depicted within characterised by a folk song from each of their respective home lands.

After a brief introduction, the opening section alludes to Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire coast, where David Heyes spent many a happy childhood summer, exploring rock pools on the beach beneath the distinctive horizontal layers of white chalk cliffs and watching waves, and sometimes the mist, roll in from the North Sea, as well as to listening at night to the boom of the Flamborough Head lighthouse when such fog emerged. The second section consists of two variations on the English folk song, 'A Sailor in the North Country', a song collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in Horsham, West Sussex during 1904. A loud, low 'boom' from the lighthouse transports player and listener to a completely different place.

The village of Lány, in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, 35 km west of Prague, is where František Posta was born and brought up. The word 'Lány' means 'fields' in Czech and the village's symbol on their coat of arms and flag is a clover. One can imagine colourful green meadows full of wild flowers surrounding the home of young František, through and where the country loving boy could rejoice, roam and rest; and this image informs the central third section of 'kith'. In the fourth there is a variation of the Bohemian folk song, 'The Farmer', modelled on the characteristic wild rhythm of a Czech folk-dance called The Furiant, which Smetana utilised in his opera 'The Bartered Bride' and one that Dvořák introduced rhythmically in his First Symphony.

This elides into the short final section, an almost straight forward melodic setting of 'A Sailor from the North Country'. In the little coda, the opening few bars of the 'Flamborough Head' and 'Lány' themes are joined together, pivoting on the fulcrum note of G (neatly belonging to both snatches of melody), on which open chord the work ends. This piece, full of musical metaphor, connections and memory, is warmly dedicated to David Heyes to celebrate the 95th birthday of František Posta, each a great player of the double bass and each a wonderful teacher of that instrument. (Programme note by John Alexander, November 2013)


kith was premiered on 17 February 2014 at St Stephen's Church (Bristol, UK) by David Heyes, to whom the work is dedicated.

kith was recorded by David Heyes on the CD 'Postcards from Prague' for PrimaFACIE records (PFCD040), released on 2 March 2016 and available on Amazon, itunes and spotify on 10 May 2016. Copies of the CD are available from doublebass@tiscali.co.uk


John Alexander was born in West Sussex in 1942 and began to compose at the age of 20. At the time he discovered a fascination for art, literature, dance, architecture and sculpture and these topics, along with mathematics, have continued to have a bearing on his work. He studied composition with Edmund Rubbra at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and later with Jonathan Harvey and Peter Wiegold at the University of Sussex.

John Alexander has never been a prolific composer, but an impressive and growing body of work reflects a rare eye for detail and structure - each work beautifully crafted and reworked until every inflection, detail and nuance is perfect. Probably best described as a miniaturist, he writes in a fluent, independent and strongly personal style with an intense desire to create music which communicates to both performer and audience alike.

In 1999 John Alexander won the 1st BIBF Composition Contest and was invited to be a judge for several BIBF competitions. He was a featured composer at Bass-Fest 2001, was an spnm short-listed composer for three years, and was Composer-in-residence at the 2004 Rotterdam Conservatoire Double Bass Weekend, Bass-Fest 2006 and 2007 Wells Double Bass Weekend. His works have been performed and broadcast throughout the world and he was written an impressive and unique body of work for double bass.

See http://ascrecords.com/primafacie/postcards_from_prague.html

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Cat No. RM700
Supplier Code RM700
Price £8.50
ComposerJohn Alexander
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
PublisherRecital Music
SeriesFrantisek Posta Heritage Series
Difficulty level8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-700-7
EAN-13 9790570457007
Weight 99 grams
Published 7th March 2014
Availability 10 in stock
See also...
RM405  Poem Basso IV
RM418  Solo Bass 1
RM440  Poetic Caprice
RM566  Sonata
RM583  Cameos
RM598  Rhapsody - A Munich Impression
RM599  Ode to Rabbath
RM653  edifice
RM654  Two for Dan
RM672  15th April 1912
RM704  Pizz. Poem Basso
RM705  The Transience of Life (In Memoriam Frantisek Posta)
RM712  Suite No.1 'Liturgical'
RM720  Tribute to Edouard Nanny
RM743  Sally's Ballade
RM891  micheldever, autumn of 1914 (DOUBLE BASS QUARTET)