Sonata for violin and piano (2000)
duration: 24’
GRT • 071

recordings available
Marianne Rothschild (violin), Glenn Riddle (piano)
Reed Music

Infinite Heartbeat
Duo Sol: Miki Tsunoda (violin), Caroline Almonte (piano)
ABC Classics

(3rd movement)

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
This violin sonata is programmatic in a very general sense, following a journey (in four movements) into space and back to Earth. It does not attempt to portray any one particular mission. The following note has been assembled from various sources to give some idea of what I had in mind when I was writing the music. The actual music can be listened to simply in its own right, though the notes may hopefully add another dimension.

1: Escape Velocity
In order to escape the Earth’s gravity, a rocket must reach a speed of around 40,000 kmh - otherwise known as ‘escape velocity’. Many rockets have exploded on the launch pad. In 1986, NASA’s Challenger 5 exploded 73 seconds after liftoff and claimed the lives of the 7 crew members. Astronauts put their lives in the hands of the best technology available. James Irwin wrote before a successful mission, “As we drove out (to the launch pad), there was plenty of time to reflect on your life: Did you have your life in order; where are you going today or where are you hoping to go today?”

2: Alone in Space
“After eighteen days of a space mission I was convinced that all visible space - the black emptiness, the white, unblinking stars and planets - was lifeless. The thought that life and humankind might be unique in the endless universe depressed me and brought melancholy upon me, and yet at the same time compelled me to evaluate everything differently.” - Yuri Glazkov

3: The Infinite Heartbeat
“What struck me most was the silence. It was a great silence, unlike any I have encountered on Earth, so vast and deep that I began to hear my own body: my heart beating…” - Aleksei Leonov

4: Return to Earth
The return to Earth poses a mixture of apprehension due to the hazards involved in re-entry, but also wonder at stepping back onto firm ground at normal gravity and seeing people again. NASA does not generally advertise the problems astronauts have even standing as their muscles do not quickly cope with the return of gravity. In 1962, America’s first astronaut in space, John Glenn, had problems during the return to Earth in Friendship 7 (as noted in a NASA mission log): “…would the straps on the retropack keep the heatshield in place long enough during re-entry? And even if they did, was the thermal protection designed and developed into the Mercury spacecraft truly adequate? Would this, America’s first manned orbital flight, end in the incineration of the astronaut? The whole Mercury team felt itself on trial and awaited its verdict.”

available on resources page

“In The Infinite Heartbeat, Greenbaum’s use of gentle minimalism is restfully attractive.”, September 2003

“Duo Sol — local girls Miki Tsunoda on violin and Caroline Almonte on piano — has built up quite a reputation as a chamber ensemble. According to the notes this CD (Infinite Heartbeat) is their celebration of "the love affair between the violin and the piano and the shared heartbeat of chamber music collaborations". It is an impressive collection of mostly early to mid-20th century music that charts diverse national contributions. The pieces tend toward the lush and romantic, but the album is not without its more challenging modernist moments. These two aspects come together in the beautiful title piece by Stuart Greenbaum. Here and with the best of the other pieces we are given more than simply bewitching melodies — the heartbeat of the music transports to new and particular worlds.”
Marcus O'Donnell, Sydney Star Observer, January 2004

“This CD, Mercurial, devoted entirely to the music of Stuart Greenbaum is a treat for lovers of Australian classical music. There are two sonatas, for saxophone and for violin, solo pieces for violin, saxophone, and piano and two sets of songs. The effect is direct, warm and affectionate all at once. The repertoire on the CD is beautifully performed and recorded. The violin sonata is my favourite piece of the other works, characterised by gypsy wildness and sometimes a folksy warmth that I think is one of the truly special aspects of Greenbaum’s music. His music draws in the listener (and performer) making them feel welcome and special. This is quite a talent. I highly recommend this CD.”
James Nightingale, Australian Clarinet & Saxophone Vol 8-4, December 2005

“Equally beautiful in its simplicity was the musical performance of violinist Courtney Keeper and pianist Bernardo Scarambone (Greenbaum, The Infinite Heartbeat). Setting the tone for ‘Poetry Arrived’, the duo’s soft melodies carried throughout the auditorium.”
Leticia Vasquez, UH News Today, April 2004