Garth Baxter is noted as a modern traditionalist composer. This is a style that combines the traditions of form and clear melodic writing with the use of contemporary approaches to harmonies and other elements. He has composed works for various performance mediums, ranging from intimate solo and small group settings to larger ensembles such as orchestra and concert band. His compositions have been performed around the world.

Chamber Music

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From the Headwaters for Piano Trio (Violin, cello and piano) YouTube

9 minutes, Upper intermediate. Alymar, score and parts $20.00

Piano Trio (Violin, Cello, Piano)

This is a romantic one-movement work in a broad ternary form. It begins with a dark theme in the two stringed instruments. After the piano enters with that theme it then moves to a romantic melody. The B section is up-tempo with a light melody that is tossed around among the 3 instruments. It returns to an abbreviated A section.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of my brother Gari Baxter.

(This is a revision of an earlier work: The Rejected Stone.)

Could You Dream What I Dream for Violin and Piano YouTube

For Violin and Piano

6 + minutes

Could you dream what I dream is a romantic work written for violinist Nicholas Currie. The opening melody is borrowed from an aria sung in Act I, Scene II, by the male lead in the opera Lily which Mr. Baxter is writing with librettist Lisa VanAuken.

"The lyricism that is so clearly a strong feature in Mr. Baxter's style is very evident here - melodic, and flexible in both the violin and piano parts (it's nice that the piano gets some lovely passages, as well!). I would imagine that this piece would fit wonderfully in a recital program, as it could both complement and contrast other works, while still holding its own grown. There is depth and weight to it."
-Ronald Pearl, Guitarist and composer

"There are no words to describe the emotions I feel in this piece, which I feel is one of Garth's best. No truer notes of love have ever been spoken and none have pierced my heart so. Don't speak; only listen to notes so true as to never have known language at all, but have soared through the heart's center. The heart's desire. My heart's desire."
-Lea Johnson, Pianist

"Baxter's compositional vocabulary is modern in its harmonic movement and melodic/harmonic relationship, but it's still very much romantic in its use of strong lyrical melodies. The middle section is especially romantic and builds to a wonderful call and response between the violin and piano. Baxter's ability to keep the movement in the piano part while still creating interest and space for the melody is remarkable. With shifting harmonic progression and double stops the music takes us through another wonderful theme where the duet performs in a call and response pattern as they build the gorgeous melody. The capitulation has power, and it ties the composition together and again demonstrates Baxter's authority with the tradition of the classical heritage and its ability to be expanded upon."

Des Larmes Encadrées (Framed Tears) (Alto Saxophone and Piano) YouTube

"A passionate composition that pairs the delicacy of saxophone with the piano emotions. This is another clear display of Baxter's romantic melodic writing that is supported by harmony, modern texture and movement."
Adorjan Horvát

"Des Larmes Encadrées is a composition for piano and alto saxophone. The themes have a flair of Romanticism in the construction, but Baxter makes the melodies colorful with imaginative chord tones. Atonality and serialism is not what Baxter uses to convey his 21st century classical style, instead he expands the Romantic style to include more adventurous harmony and rhythm. The interaction between the saxophone and piano is of note here, both are featured as the lead instrument, the accompanying instrument and as a solo feature. The traditional role of the woodwind playing the main melody with the piano only providing support is not adhered to here, and that makes for a powerful musical statement. Baxter has a gift for developing a clear and energetic contrapuntally complex style and that is what makes this composition most significant."
Steven Miller
Sound in Review

7 minutes, Intermediate to upper intermediate. ALRY Publications $10, CD $5

Des larmes encadrées, for Alto Saxophone and Piano, was written for my friend Romain Gravier, who is a saxophone player in the Paris-based group La Scaña del Domingo. The first of the two main themes is a melancholy bluesy theme, which captures Romain's carefree approach to life. Always relaxed, he takes life as it comes without succumbing to the stress and anxiety the rest of us react to. The second primary theme is loosely based on the English folksong The Willow Tree, which is a favorite of Romain's wife, Laurence Gravier. The title, Des larmes encadrées means Framed Tears. Both of the major themes are a bit reflective, so I infused the music with a more upbeat transitional theme which I used throughout the composition. As in all of my chamber compositions, I made a real effort to make the instruments equal partners. The piano is not accompaniment; it is an essential element along with the saxophone.

Il y a longtemps (Violin and Piano) YouTube

"Really, really nice. Immediately recognizable as you. Your style is very clear and honest, and moreover, it is a style, and not just a mish-mash of whatever happens to be at hand. Nicely controlled and directed."
-Ron Pearl, Composer

5 minutes, Alymar Publications.

Romantic work for violin and piano based upon the aria Long Ago from Act I, Scene III of the opera Lily. A secondary melody is also featured which is also based on a melody from the same scene of Lily. This work was written for violinist Nicholas Currie and pianist Diana Greene.

Let's End With A Waltz for Brass Quintet (2 Trumpets, French Horn, Trombone and Tuba) YouTube

Written for the Lyric Brass Quintet

5 minutes, upper intermediate to lower advanced level.

The work begins rather darkly with a falling motive passed between the instruments. Then a more substantial melody appears in the trumpets followed by another theme from the French Horn. This is followed by some development of these thematic ideas which then dissolves into a light waltz.

MacPherson's Lament for string quartet YouTube

"The intriguing part of the composition is how Baxter is able to bring the sounds of modern string quartet sonorities and marry them with a Scottish fiddle overtone. --- hearing the singing qualities of the main theme that has elements of the lyrical Scottish fiddler tradition is excellent. Again, Baxter displays a mastery of form and balance in the combining of old and new in a manner that is beautiful and enriching."
Elberton Cisnero

7 minutes. Intermediate

James MacPherson (1675-1700) was a Scottish outlaw and fiddle player. His story is well known in certain parts of Scotland. After his father's death he was raised by his mother's family, who were gypsies. He grew to be a man of uncommon strength, an excellent swordsman and a renowned fiddler. As is so often the case of these type of folk heroes, the story goes that, in spite of his occupation, no act of cruelty, or robbery of a widow, or of the fatherless, or of the distressed, was ever perpetrated under his command. However, he was betrayed by a man of his own tribe and a warrant for his arrest went out. After many unsuccessful attempts he was finally captured and put to trial. He was sentenced to death by hanging in the town of Banff. He composed his Lament the night before the hanging. As 2:30 approached, the time for the punishment, the people in charge heard that a reprieve was on its way from the Lord of Grant, so they moved the town clock up by 15 minutes and went forth with the execution. Legend says that MacPherson played his lament at the gallows. After finishing the lament he then broke the fiddle either over his knee, or over the head of the executioner, depending on which version of the tale you want to believe, then by some accounts flung himself down so that he hung himself by his own will. MacPherson's sword is on display at the Duff house in Banff. It is written that even to this day the town of Macduff has its west-facing town clock covered so the people of Banff can't see the correct time!

Robert Burns wrote words to go with the music.

Notes from Garth Baxter:
I found the tune to be remarkably beautiful. My work is completely inspired by MacPherson's Lament. I have taken melodic ideas from the first two sections of the Lament and used them to build my composition. But I wanted to end my piece with much of the last phrase from the original work. I did so, but changed the meters in some measures and extended some motives. Obviously I added the texture of the quartet in contrast to the solo violin in the original.

A Parting Glass for Woodwind Quintet (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn and Bassoon) YouTube

6+ minutes

Published by Alry Publications

"A Parting Glass was awarded the prize of "Finalist" in the 2021 Newly Published Music Competition of The National Flute Association."

Notes from Garth Baxter:
This work was inspired by my recent trip to Ireland in the Fall of 2016. The title of the work is taken from a popular Irish folk song from which several motives are used to build this piece. Another Irish folk song, Katie ni Dhuibhir is also quoted. The latter folk song is rather obscure but the name was used in 18th Century Irish poetry as a sobriquet for Ireland.

When Lights Begin to Show (Flute, Clarinet and Guitar) YouTube

"When Lights Begin to Show exudes rapture, so it should, given that (Baxter) wrote it to celebrate the marriage of close friends. The guitar partners with a flute and clarinet for a gorgeous trio setting that's as swoon-inducing as they come. It's hard to resist drawing a parallel between the woodwinds and the wedding couple when the instruments intertwine so lovingly."
February 2023

"When Lights Begin to Show is marvelously reminiscent of salon-type chamber stylings from an earlier period, but with a modern sensibility."
-Emily Kerski

5 minutes, Les Productions d'OZ

Written for the marriage of Amit and Rajni.

The Silver Run YouTube

"Commencing with a haunting pick-up phrase from the flute that is joined by cascading chords from the piano, Baxter instantly establishes his harmonic colors as modern, but still based in the Classical tradition. Baxter's composition gives space to both instrumental colors [flute and piano] and his form is clear as he develops the themes. There is a beautiful interplay between the flute and the upper melody of the piano's right-hand part in the middle section. This is classical music that represents the history of the tradition while moving it forward."
-Elberton Cisnero

9 minutes, upper intermediate level, ALRY Publications. CD $5 (available late fall, 2003)

The Silver Run is a two-movement work in the neo-romantic style that takes its inspiration from the natural beauty of the Silver Run area of Carroll County where Mr. Baxter lives.

The first movement, in ternary form, begins with a lyrical chromatic melody that is the centerpiece of this movement. The middle section develops a transitional motive from the first section. The second movement, also in ternary form, is rather upbeat. The first of the two primary themes is lyrical, but active. The second is more rhythmic and chromatic. This is a substantial and fun composition that is sure to be a hit at recitals.

The Darkness Between Us (Flute and Piano) YouTube

Published by Alry Publications.

This work is dedicated to Jwandune, a young casualty of a bomb dropped from a US drone in Afghanistan. This young girl was leading a typical carefree life playing; then suddenly her face was blown off. Her physical life was saved, but her face was destroyed. Through multiple surgeries, her appearance has been reconstructed. She remains blind. The amazing thing about Jwandune is that she also has recaptured her happy perspective although the trauma lingers, and her fears remain close to the surface. 

The Darkness Between Us is divided into two sections. The first, Â lalo lalo lalo, begins with a quote from the Afghan nursery rhyme of the same name. This section represents Jwandune’s easy early life moving into struggle and pain at the moment of attack. As the music tries to recapture the soft nursery rhyme, we find it is changed – now sad, never to be quite the same again. The second part is Jwandune’s Song, which depicts the uplifting strength she has exhibited in her new life.

Wrapped in the Wind and the Sun (Clarinet and Piano) YouTube

"Wrapped in the Wind and the Sun is an introspective work that offers the clarinetist an opportunity to showcase their great sensibility of phrasing."
-Emily Kerski

Written for clarinetist Jennifer Hughson

Published by Alry Publications

This work consists of two short movements that are connected by the return at the end of the 2nd movement of the opening theme of the 1st movement.

La Nostalgie for Clarinet and Guitar YouTube

Published by Alry Publications

Available for both flute and guitar, and clarinet and guitar

La Nostalgie is a simple tune based on two Jewish folk songs (Tumbalalyka and Dundai). Although the original folk songs are generally played rather fast, the mood portrayed here is one of sadness and nostalgia. To achieve that mood, La Nostalgie should not be played quickly.

This version of the work was written for clarinettist Anita Thomas and guitarist Candice Mowbray.

A Jagged Path for Woodwind Quintet and piano YouTube

"A Jagged Path, four woodwinds, French horn, and piano give voice to a rhythmically robust set-piece that builds on two themes from Lily and shows the sensitivity with which Baxter weaves distinct instrumental voices into an elegant harmonic whole."
February 2023

Published by Alry Publications

Approximately 7 minutes.

A lively piece that builds upon two themes from the opera Lily.

Finalist in the National Flute Association Newly Published Music of 2023, in the category of wind quartets and quintets.

Resting YouTube

Published by Alry Publications

for Vibraphone, Clarinet and mezzo soprano

Inspired by a poem by Miesha Lowery.

4 minutes

A somewhat jazz inspired work that in the end is full of romanticism built around the closing line of Miesha Lowery's poem Resting.