A study of the solo piano works by Owen Middleton (b. 1941): with a recording of selected works from 1962-1993
Owen Middleton (b. 1941) enjoys an established and growing reputation as a composer of classical guitar music, but his works for piano are comparatively little known. The close investigation offered here of Middleton's works for piano reveals the same impressive craftsmanship, compelling character, and innovative spirit found in his works for guitar. Indeed, the only significant thing Middleton's piano music currently lacks is the well-deserved attention of professional players and a wider audience. Middleton's piano music needs to be heard, not just discussed, so one of this document's purposes is to provide a recorded sample of his piano works. While the overall repertoire for solo piano is vast, and new works become established in that repertoire with increasing difficulty, Middleton's piano works have a significant potential to find their way into the concert hall as well as the private teaching studio. His solo piano music is highly effective, well suited to the instrument, and, perhaps most importantly, fresh sounding and truly original. His pedagogical works are of equal value. Middleton's piano music offers something for everyone: there one finds daring virtuosity, effusions of passion, intellectual force, colorful imagery, poetry, humor, and even a degree of idiomatic innovation. This study aims to reveal key aspects of the composer's musical style, especially his style of piano writing, and to provide pianists with helpful analytical, technical, and interpretive insights. These descriptions of the music are supported with recorded examples, selected from the works for solo piano written between 1962 and 1993: Sonata for Piano, Childhood Scenes, Katie's Collection, and Toccata for Piano. The complete scores of the recorded works are included in the appendix. A chapter briefly describing the piano pieces since 1993 concludes the study and invites the reader to further investigations of this unique and important body of work.