However, my list goes way back. Some of the items date to when I was in college over 40 years ago. Of course I didn't think of these as "things to do before I die", only as "things to do." The part about "before I die" sneaks up on a person over the years.
One entry on my list is: write a set of variations on the famous theme by Niccolo Paganini. That theme would be from his 24th Caprice for solo violin, itself a theme and variations. Doing such variations is not a terribly original idea. Many composers have used Paganini's theme before me. (Find a list here.)
I was originally inspired to this idea by the Variations on a Theme of Paganini of Wittold Lutoslawski, a work for two pianos. This was one of my introductions to how exciting modern music could be. I highly recommend it. He also made an orchestra version which preserves the fury.
Although Wittold called his piece "Variations on a...", it is really more of an arrangement of Paganini's 24th Caprice. His variations track the original variations one to one. My piece does exactly the same thing. Hence it does not really qualify as the fulfillment for my bucket list. I'll have to wait to do that. Someday before I die. Maybe.
Since I worked directly with Paganini's original material and didn't actually write any original variations, I have refrained from calling my piece "Variations on a..." Instead I have named it Caprice. That's what Paganini called his piece - although he needed to give it a number as well.
It's highly likely that my compositional method is greatly different than Lutoslawski's. My piece is longer and generally more relaxed than his. I composed Caprice in approximately 90 short bits separated by silences over approximately 90 days. These bits became the piece Summer 2013. Later I removed the silences to reveal this piece. Of course, I was intending to do this all along and had planned ahead somewhat. Still, there were surprises.
Summer 2013 is kind of a journal or calendar piece, based on the compositional regimen of "write a little something every day". Caprice (or rather Summer 2013, Short Version) might be thought of as the time-lapse version of the longer piece. Soundwise, they are scored for electric violin, electric cello and piano.
Click here to hear Caprice (Summer 2013 short version) by David Ocker - © 2013 David Ocker, 884 seconds
If Internet search sites are to be believed, the term caprice is associated mostly with either a supermodel or a Chevrolet model. Both, I dare say, have prominent headlights.
The picture of the college age Witold Lutosławski came from the University of Warsaw website. He wrote his variations in the early nineteen forties when he might have looked something like this picture.
Caprice Tags: Niccolo Paganini. . . Wittold Lutoslawski. . . David Ocker