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Hard Times
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Hard Times

Composer: FOSTER Stephen

Arranger: JOHANSON Bryan

DZ 1562


ISBN: 978-2-89655-461-4

4 guitars

24 p. + separated parts


Hard Times is one of Stephen Foster's most enduring creations. Written in 1854, the opening line begins:

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,

While we all sup sorrow with the poor.

The song takes pains to point out the plight of the poor, reminding the listener that sorrow, suffering and poverty shadow each of us. Foster's craft at writing songs that could connect with all strata of society made his music the first true popular music this nation produced. In a very real sense he is the father of American popular song. In my own treatment of the song I have given it a more expansive framework. The work begins with a Prelude that gently weaves together elements found in the song. The Prelude gives way to a lyrical fugue whose subject is made from the main melody of Foster's song. The fugue moves directly into the final Toccata, which is an episodic treatment of the previously exposed material. The three-part form is designed to allow a more thorough exploration of the complex themes found in the text.

This American song will be familiar to many and it has been performed by a huge number of Singers. Slow and poignant, it would seem to crave the sustain that the guitar sadly lacks. Mr Johanson has tackled the problem in a rather nice way - the music has been put up on the ramps and taken apart ready for re-assembly as a Prelude & Fugue and Toccata. The skill required by this piece increases as the work develops, and the movements are not really designed for playing separately, so the bottom line is how hard is the whole piece, and I would think that Grade 7-8 players would be needed in all the forces.

Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

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