Album for the Young
Composer: Robert Oetomo
Duration: 15 min.
During my early years of piano training, I recall being introduced to the pieces of Schumann’s Album for the Young, Op. 68 and Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young, Op. 39. The pieces in both albums, which were specifically composed with children’s hands in mind, help young pianists to build technical skills at the same time as developing a sense of musicality and musical skills. Schumann composed his pieces for his three daughters; Tchaikovsky, inspired by Schumann’s album and his other works for children, dedicated his album to his nephew.
For many of the same reasons as Schumann’s and Tchaikovsky’s, I was inspired to compose my own Album for the Young, a collection of miniatures for solo marimba. I wanted the miniatures to be manageable for the hands of beginners new to four-mallet technique. However, the collection can also be used by those wanting to develop and maintain their four-mallet technique at intermediate and advanced levels. My Album for the Young is dedicated to my two nephews, Jason Chun and Zachary Sun.
I want to stress that my Album for the Young is not a collection of technical exercises or a method book for four-mallet technique, but rather a collection of miniatures that prioritise musicality and various musical skills, for which specific four-mallet techniques are required. The order of the miniatures does not imply any chronological order of level of difficulty.
Each miniature has been inspired by and reflects different actions typically carried out by toddlers:
I. The First Steps
III. Chucking a Tantrum
Difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate
IV. Sweet Dreaming
Difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate
V. Under the Weather
Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced
VI. And off they go!
Difficulty: Beginner – Advanced
About the composer +
Indonesian-born Australian percussionist and composer Robert Oetomo (b. 1988) studied his Master of Music (Künstlerische Ausbildung) degree in performance at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Mannheim, where he received highest distinction for his final graduation recital in 2014. He completed his Bachelor of Music (Performance) Honours Class I at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Australia in 2010. His previous teachers include Professor Dennis Kuhn, Jasmin Kolberg, Claire Edwardes, Daryl Pratt, Richard Miller and Gary Wain. He has accumulated many national and international awards including third prize in the Vibraphone category of the 9th Percussive Arts Society Italy International Percussion Competition in 2011, the ‘Just Percussion Marimba Prize’ at the Australian Percussion Gathering (APG) 2010, first prize in both the Open Marimba and Open Vibraphone categories of the 2010 Australian Percussion Eisteddfod and second prize at the 2008 Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Snare Drum Award. He also won the 2010 Sydney Conservatorium Percussion Concerto Competition, and was finalist in the 2012 Yamaha Music Foundation Europe Scholarship Competition.
A versatile percussionist, Robert has performed with different orchestras and ensembles including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, the Kurpfälzischen Kammerorchester Mannheim, the Australian Youth Orchestra, Synergy Percussion and Mannheimer Schlagwerk. He presented his paper, ‘The Transcription of J. S. Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites for the Modern Marimba,’ at APG 2010 Symposium ‘Moving Ground – The Changing Face of Percussion’. Robert was invited to perform his work, The Legend of the Golden Snail, at the Gala Concert of APG 2010, performing with highly acclaimed percussionists including Steve Schick, Sylvio Gualda and Kuniko Kato.
As a composer, Robert passionately advocates the development of percussion music. He has composed numerous works for percussion which have been performed all over the world. His first symphonic work, Spirit of The Dreaming with solo didgeridoo, was premiered at the ‘2008 Aurora Music Festival’ in Sydney, Australia. Later that year, it was performed again with renowned didgeridoo soloist, William Barton. Robert was selected for the 2010 Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra Composers' Workshop program during which he composed his new orchestral work, Reflections on an Island’s Landscape, under the mentorship of composer Nigel Butterley and John Peterson. His works are published by Edition Svitzer and Tapspace Publications. Robert is an Encore Mallets, Inc. endorser.
Review (Percussive Notes, May 2014)
Inspired by Schumann and Tchaikovsky, Australian composer Robert Oetomo has assembled a collection of short, original programmatic works that offer sincere musical possibilities to the four-mallet marimbist. Dedicated to his two nephews, the title of each work (or “miniature”) reflects an aspect of early childhood: “The First Steps,” “Peek-a- Boo,” “Chucking a Tantrum,” “Sweet Dreaming,” “Under the Weather,” and “And off they go!”
While you need a low C for the entire set of six pieces, three can be performed using a low-A instrument, and one requires a low E. Even though the composer emphasizes that this collection is not intended as a series of technical studies, but rather as performance solos, it is apparent each work is based on a specific technique (double vertical, single alternating, double lateral, rolls, etc.). The publisher lists all levels (beginner to advanced) in this collection so there is something for everyone. However, this does not take away from the charm and musical integrity contained in each movement. Overall, the brevity and accessibility of each section would make it a highly rewarding and encouraging experience. Bravo!
Front Cover graphics and layout: Evi O.
Engraving: Robert Oetomo & Johan Svitzer
Special thanks to Anna Zeltzer
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copyright © Edition SVITZER