Steven Gross, master of what used to be known as the French horn (but which is now called simply, the horn), celebrates his 25 years on the music faculty at UCSB with a recital at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road.

Collaborating with Professor Gross will be the chamber duo calling themselves American Double (Philip Ficsor, violin; Constantine Finehouse, piano).

The program will include Václav Nelhýbel‘s “Scherzo Concertante for Horn & Piano” (1966); William Bolcom‘s “Second Sonata for Violin & Piano” (1979); the second movement (“Molto lento”) from Jiří Havlík‘s “Concerto for Horn” (1976); and the West Coast premiere of Bolcom’s “Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano” (2017), which was commissioned by Gross and American Double in 2017.

Derek Katz (UCSB associate professor of musicology, will give a talk on Bolcom and his works.

“I am thrilled to present the West Coast premiere of William Bolcom’s “Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano,” joined by American Double,” said Gross. “This is an exciting new work that promises to be a significant contribution to the chamber music repertoire.

“The program will also include solo and duo compositions by other composers.”

The titles of the Bolcom trio’s four movements (“Plodding, implacably controlled,” “Headlong, brutal,” “As if far away, misterioso,” and “Very controlled and resolute”) give the listener a preview of the vastly different moods and colors at play within the piece.

Bolcom—a National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winner — notes the work was “occasioned … by the era we’re living in. So many of us feel desperation from the constant endangering of our country and the world; I wrote the Trio to express this, hoping listeners might possibly feel less alone.”

Nelhýbel (1919-96) was a Czech American composer, very prolific, specializing mainly in works for student performers. His “Scherzo Concertante” “takes the listener on a journey filled with vigorous rhythms, cascading notes, and interlocking melodies between the horn and the piano.”

The Czech composer Havlík’s “Concerto for Horn,” written while Havlík was a composition student at the Prague Conservatory, was inspired by the rich Czech tradition of wind instrument concertos, and was modeled after the classical three-movement concerto form.

The work incorporates sweeping melodic lines and utilizes the full range of horn registers. In 1978, the work was awarded the “Special Award of the Czech Ministry of Culture for Composition and Performance.”

Bolcom’s “Second Sonata for Violin and Piano” was inspired by a collaboration between Bolcom and violinist Serge Luca, who shared Bolcom’s interest in jazz, particularly in the playing of jazz violinist Joe Venuti. The sonata’s four movements are: “Summer Dreams,” “Brutal-fast,” “Adagio,” and “In Memory of Joe Venuti.”

Tickets to this recital are $15 general admission, $5 for non-UCSB students with ID, and free to UCSB students with ID and to children under 12. Tickets may be purchased at the door, by phone at 805-893-2064, or online at

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at The opinions expressed are his own.