Ode to “Ode to Joy”
by Bruce Stark



Bruce Stark's “Ode to 'Ode to Joy'“ was absolutely the audience favorite of the concert. An odd mixture of variation form and hilarious commentary on the tune combining unexpected mashups of jazz-rock stylings with serious and ecstatic cascades of sound. Lisa Moore thrilled with her precision and phenomenal dramatic buildup to an incredible climax.
— Jeff Harrington, Sequenza21 (Nov 2006)

Lisa Moore closed her part of the program with Bruce Stark's “Ode To 'Ode To Joy' “(1997), a fantasy on the theme from the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, couched in jazzy rhythms, rumbling bass figures and a healthy measure of overt virtuosity. It was as if Liszt, while musing on the Beethoven work, were suddenly possessed by the spirit of Art Tatum.
— Allan Kozinn, New York Times

A grand finale was provided by Bruce Stark, composer of an “Ode To 'Ode To Joy'“—and it was in this piece that surprising bits of the joyous melody would emerge amidst the frenetic passages of jazz, syncopation, and all kinds of different rhythms.
— Wendy Brazil, ArtSoundFM 92.7 Radio, Australia


Chika Nagisa plays Stark’s Ode to “Ode to Joy” in rehearsal in Tokyo in 2011

Ode to "Ode to Joy"

by Bruce Stark
solo piano
5 minutes
20 pages

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Ode To “Ode To Joy” (1997) combines jazzy, syncopated elements with more classically-derived development of the material, in a playful yet virtuosic variations (or shall I say romp) on the famous melody from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Celebratory and, well, joyous, it contains many bravura passages involving the harmonies and rhythms of jazz, contrapuntal writing and polyrhythms. Perhaps the master himself would chuckle and crack a wry smile upon hearing this demanding little piece honoring his enduring tune. . .

— Bruce Stark

Ode To "Ode To Joy" was recorded by British pianist Seann Alderking on Vivid, his 2006 release from Red Kite Records. The piece was given its U.S. premiere in 2006 by Lisa Moore as part of Keys To The Future contemporary piano music festival in New York City, and has received numerous performances in Germany (pianist Kai Schumacher), Japan (pianist Chika Nagisa), Australia and the United States.