Jay C. Batzner is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida where he teaches theory, composition, and technology courses as well as coordinates the composition program. He holds degrees in composition and/or theory from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, the University of Louisville, and the University of Kansas.
Jay's music is primarily focused around instrumental chamber works as well as electroacoustic composition. His music has been recorded on the Capstone, Vox Novus, and Beauport Classical labels and is published by Unsafe Bull Music.
Jay is a sci-fi geek, an amateur banjoist, a home brewer, and juggler.
Should I rewrite some of my pieces for a more standard ensemble? That is the question.
I have always been taught to be practical and it is something that I tend to pass along to my students (funny how that works). In my orchestration class I talk about "standard" instrumentation and the financial reality that hampers writing outside of the norm. My intent is not to dissuade them from writing orchestral music but to be aware of the instrumentation limitations inherent in the medium. In other words, they might hire 4 more horn players to play Mahler, but they aren't going to do that for my piece.
In my own large ensemble pieces, though, I have not followed my own advice. I have 4 pieces for "large" groups and none of them are for a standard ensemble:
tenor and orchestra (twas my master's thesis)
5 voices and odd wind combinations (written specifically for a festival)
2 pianos and chamber orchestra (written specifically for a festival)
wind ensemble with too many "unusual" instruments (DMA dissertation)
I've thought of redoing the tenor and orchestra piece for a chamber ensemble but I just don't think the piece is worth it. It was useful in that it got me my degree. Musically it is pretty good (I think, it has been several years) and might deserve to be reissued.
The 5 voices piece is only 3 minutes long and needs never see the light of day again. No loss there.
My dissertation will be reworked for a more "traditional" instrumentation but I'll always prefer the one I really wrote. Bands tend to be a bit more fluid on instrumentation than orchestras, anyway.
The 2 piano work I'd like to see done again. It was a very important piece for me and my output. I have been thinking of scoring out one of the pianos and beefing up the winds (there were only 1 of each and I think with 2 of each I can cover everything). It would revive the piece in my catalog and, finally, give me a stock small orchestra piece. There were some musical gaffes in it, too, which I could smooth out.
My question is this: should I rework the old piece or just take that energy and write a new one?