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Doinas & Dances

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Playable by quartet or larger forces, this klezmer-inspired work is aimed at the intermediate quartet and is evocative and player-friendly. It has been popular at many workshops and concerts and was composed in 1999 for the ISB Young Bassists Project. Dedicated to legendary American bassist and teacher, David Walter, this is a great work for players of all ages and abilities, with effective solos for bass 1 which can be easily divided between players if larger ensembles are used, creating solo opportunities for more players.

The solo part can be played by one player, or divided between a number of players to give more opportunities for younger players to work as a soloist within a bass environment.

Performance Level: 6;8

"American-born Bertram Turetzky is amongst the most outstanding and influential bassists of the last 40 years. Several hundred works have been written for him and he has been an inspiration to many bass players and composers during this time.
The title states for 'Double Bass Ensemble' [or Double Bass Quartet] and yet the score has five separate parts at times. Often the solo bass and 1st bass are in unison so in practice it could be possible to perform it as a quartet; however it could work equally well as a quintet or bass choir.
Written in 1999, it is dedicated to Turetzky's teacher, the renowned and venerated bassist and pedagogue David Walter.
The work consists of 3 Doinas - free cadenzas for solo bass, followed by the dances which are klezmer-like in style. This 5 minute work is suitable for teacher (solo bass) and four students. Either solo or orchestral tuning is possible." [STRINGENDO - Australian String Teachers Association]

"The contemporary bass player Bertram Turetzky here turns his wildly imaginitive mind to the world of the young bassist, producing this fascinating work for large or small ensemble. Doinas and Dances can be played by a double bass quartet or by any sized ensemble up to a large bass orchestra with soloist. Written in the style of a klezmer improvisation, it will introduce a new musical voice to many students. The four ensemble parts are all within the reach of an advanced beginner-level player - none of the parts have a range exceeding octave G, and rhythms, although varied, are not difficult. The solo part is lengthy, with extensive sections performed while the rest of the ensemble is not playing. Although only slightly more techically advanced than the ensemble parts, it requires mature musicianship.
According to the included note, 'Doinas' refers to the cadenzas performed as introductions to lively klezmer dances. Turetzky presents a series of improvisatory cadenzas for the soloist, interspersed with short dance sections for the ensemble. It begins with two Doinas - one melodic and one more virtuosic - separated by haunting-sounding chords. The ensemble then takes up a slow dance in 3/4 time, accompanying the solo line. Following a pause the music proceeds with a quick dance, the melody appearing in all parts. This short section is interrupted by the soloist, who continues with the third Doina which is performed over a tremolo chord played by the ensemble. Finally the dance rhythm returns and the work ends with the soloist performing one last cadenza.
Doinas and Dances is an enjoyable and compelling work for both performers and audience. Any advanced level students in the group who do not have the solo line may be disappointed by the limited material in the other parts, however this piece would make an excellent work for an ensemble with minimal rehearsal time. More experienced soloists will be able to capitalise on its improvisatory nature and bring to life the very personal statement that Turetzky has given us." [DOUBLE BASSIST]

"This is a work in five parts: a solo double bass, plus a bass quartet, though it can be performed as a straight bass quartet as alternative first parts are provided. It's a series of recitative cadenzas for the soloist, over shimmering accompaniment, interspersed with rhythmic interludes for the quartet. The flavour is decidedly Eastern European with a strong harmonic minor feel to the melodic writing. Doinas and Dances lies mainly within the orchestral tessitura, plus a few high harmonics, and the fourth part is kept in the lower positions. It was composed in 1999 for the ISB Young Bassists project, and I imagine it must have been well received by them." [ESTA - News & Views]

"Early in his career, while teaching at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut, Turetzky's life took a change of direction. A friend, a composer, committed suicide at the age of 26. It was thought that the composer despaired because no one would perform his music. This dramatic episode illustrated to Turetzky that modern composers were desperate to have their works performed, and if he wanted to play music on his instrument, he needed to collaborate with them. Along with Henry Larsen, a clerinettist, Turetzky formed the Hartt Chamber Players and sought out the new music of living composers. 'Whatever was written for us, we would play it all. We didn't stick to what was "safe",' he says." [Paul Hormick/Double Bassist, Spring 2003]

This one event completely changed Bert Turetzky's life, but also changed one aspect of the repertoire and direction of the solo double bass for decades to come. Almost single-handedly he persuaded composers to explore every sound, noise and effect possible on the double bass, pushing the boundaries of music/noise to the limit and creating a repertoire which is possibly unique in the history of the instrument. His book 'The Contemporary Contrabass', written in 1974, was described as 'a milestone in the search for new timbres, at the same time futuristic and traditional' and described in great detail the many sounds that were possible on the double bass and was based on much research and exploration in the 1950s and 60s. More than 300 works have been written for him and still at the age of 82 Bert's passion for the double bass is as strong as ever.

Born on 14 February 1933 in Norwich, Connecticut Bertram Turetzky took up the tenor banjo at the age of 12 or 13, he switched to the guitar in high school, having fallen in love with jazz, and then changed to the double bass which he described as '...the core of everything, the glue between the harmony and the wind instruments.' Paul Hormick writes: "...he made a commitment to become a professional jazz bassist. If his playing was not top notch, he had, as he says, 'the energy, commitment, and drive' needed for success. A letter from a classmate, on the occasion of Turetzky's 50th high school reunion says that, of the class, Turetzky 'was the only one who knew what he wanted to do, and went out and did it'."

He subsequently studied at New York University and Hartt College of Music of the University of Hartford and slowly changed direction from jazz to everything else a bassist is asked to do - symphony, opera, contemporary, jazz, teaching and recitals, featuring many of the new works that were being written for him. For many years he combined his hectic performance schedule with teaching, first at the Hartt School of Music and from 1968 as Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego, where he retired as 'Distinguished Professor Emeritus' only a few years ago.

Alongside his passion for contemporary music, Bert has also played a wealth of music from the 15th and 16th-centuries. He has transcribed works for every possible combination of instruments, but usually including the flute which was always played by his wife Nancy, and the husband and wife partnership have been fearless in their promotion of music for this rare instrumental duo. The vast majority of repertoire for flute and double bass today was either written for Bert and Nancy, or inspired by them. Bert has an interest in any repertoire which features the double bass and has championed many chamber works which are unknown or have been forgotten.

Bert has composed and transcribed many works for double bass. For some years his interest in the music of Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846) was a passion and in the early 1960s he edited six waltzes for unaccompanied double bass by the great Venetian bassist. Published by McGinnis & Marx, the pieces had been completely unknown and unavailable at the time and still in manuscript and this one publication and his subsequent recording in 1975 'Dragonetti Lives!' which featured three of the waltzes, a solo for double bass and piano and a Duo for cello and double bass, probably kick-started the resurgence of interest in Dragonetti's music which is taking flight in the 21st-century. Although Bert Turetzky has spent most of his life playing modern music and creating every possible sound and noise that the double bass can produce, his own compositions, on the whole, are far more traditional and accessible. He has composed a whole range of music for double bass, probably for his own use or for his students, and into his 80s the desire to compose and perform are as strong as ever. [David Heyes/June 2015]

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Cat No. RM372
Price £9.50
ComposerBertram Turetzky
CategoryDouble Bass Quartet
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level5 - 8
ISMN 979-0-57045-372-6
EAN-13 9790570453726
Weight 66 grams
Published 19th July 2009
Availability 5 in stock
See also...
RM098  Two Dances
RM793  Pacific Parables (DOUBLE BASS SOLO)