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Dialogue for Self and Soul, A

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James Stephenson

James Stephenson

Subtitle: A Concerto for Bassoon

General Info

Year: 2013
Duration: c. 21:45
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Stephenson Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $300.00


1. Allegretto moderato assai - 9:45
2. Allegro - spirited - 12:32


Full Score
Solo Bassoon
Solo Voice (optional but preferred)
C Piccolo
English Horn
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Trumpet
Horn in F I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Drum Set
  • Marimba
  • Orchestra Bells
  • Snare Drum
  • Splash Cymbal
  • Suspended Cymbal (one low, one high)
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

A Dialogue of Self and Soul was never intended to be my concept for a bassoon concerto, composed for a consortium of wind ensembles led by Craig Kirchhoff at the University of Minnesota. But it just so happened that as the project came to be, I was directed by happenstance to the Yeats poem, and was very taken by its meaning (or my interpretation of its meaning).

Text used from A Dialogue of Self and Soul by William Butler Yeats

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,

We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

As a composer, we are often pulled -- almost on a daily basis -- to consider what we write: who is the piece really for? Is it for the soloist, and his/her expectations? Or is it for the person/people commissioning the work, and what might work best for their needs? Or is it for the audience? Ideally, and the expected answer is, of course, that we should compose for ourselves first, and that everything else will take care of itself.

Easier said than done.

That's a risky proposition. If the piece then falls into dislike, or suffers bad critical review, then those responses are direct criticisms of our self as a person. The opposite is true, no doubt, but nonetheless, this is the line we must constantly walk as composers: our "dialogue" that runs constantly through our heads (or at least mine).

And so the two movements of this concerto are very contrasting. (as most concertos should be anyway). One plays up to some expectations, while the other ignores. It's almost as if I worked through the issue described above throughout the concerto itself.

One constant remains, however: a solo bassoon part intended to be accessible to almost all levels of player; not too difficult for the young player, but also musically rewarding and stimulating for the seasoned professional. The ending is different from most other music I've composed, and the repetition should be heralded, rather than labored. It should end with rapture; prolonged silence by the audience at the end would be most welcome.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff) Wind Symphony (Stephen J. Meyer, conductor; Douglas Brown, bassoon; Ricardo Pereira, tenor) - 15 October 2021
  • University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony (Donald J. McKinney, conductor; Yoshiyuki Ishikawa, bassoon; Matthew Chellis, tenor) – 18 April 2019
  • University of Missouri, Kansas City, Wind Ensemble (Joseph Parisi, conductor) – 13 March 2019
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble (Kevin M. Geraldi, conductor; Robert Bracey, tenor) – 18 November 2017
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Wind Ensemble (Andrew Mast, conductor; Carl Rath, bassoon; Luke Honeck, tenor) – 11 November 2017
  • University of Oregon (Eugene) Wind Ensemble (Rodney Dorsey, conductor; Steve Vacchi, bassoon, Paul Rudoi, tenor) – 22 November 2016
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Stephen Pratt, conductor; William Ludwig, bassoon) 5 April 2016
  • University of Texas Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor; Kirstin Wolfe Jensen, bassoon; Liz Culpepper, mezzo soprano) - 23 November 2014

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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