Robert Helps’ Program notes

3 Hommages for piano (1972)

 I have consistently avoided writing descriptive notes for the "3 Hommages", preferring the listener to react to these three pieces without prejudicial comments from the composer. These pieces were not written as a set; although I felt they compliment each other quite well, they are very performable as separate pieces.
The first two hommages are much more tonal than any other music of mine. All three are very pianistic. These two qualities probably account for their being fairly popular as a "contemporary" selection in high level piano competitions. The "3 Hommages" were prominently featured on a Decca-Argo CD release by the pianist (and former student of mine) Alan Feinberg. That recording was nominated for a Grammy (1992). The titles of the pieces, with the exception of the Ravel hommage, were arrived at long after their composition. The first two were therefore obviously not written, as could easily be conjectured from the titles, as an attempt to "imitate the style," of Fauré and Rachmaninoff. Even so, I find the titles not inappropriate. However, when I was trying to find an appropriate title for the set, "3 Hommages," "3 Nocturnes," and "3 Etudes," all came to mind. Any of these titles, despite seeming contradictory, still seem appropriate to me. The combination of all three titles describe the nature of the works better for me than any one title does. 

Robert Helps

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