Composed: 1996
Commission:  Horn Consortium Commissioning Group
Premiere:  Kristin Thelander, Faculty Recital, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA,     10/18/96
Duration:  13 minutes
Instrumentation: Horn and piano


I.  Hymn
II.  Riding to Higher Clouds

At the turn of the new century and after a century of atonality, I was interested in exploring new harmonic directions.  Somehow, it seemed as if something new should happen in a new century.  The Sonata for Horn and Piano is representative of explorations of mine done between 1995 and 1999 toward a personal expression in a new direction.  It is also a very personal expression of searching prompted by the deaths of two loved ones within a year’s time.  Hymn, straightforward and melodic, expresses grief and faith.  Riding to Higher Clouds deals with the complex struggle between the conflicting emotions of loss, hope, memories, and understanding.  This work was commissioned by The Horn Consortium Commissioning Group, which consists of 11 hornists.


"'Riding to Higher Clouds' depicts a struggle between the emotions of loss, hope, memories and understanding. Hunting horn calls and isolated accents of despair that utilize the entire range of the horn filled the church, while omnipresent piano passages added harmonic support, the results of which were a sonic feast of sounds and colors." - Mike Telin, Cleveland Classical, 2015

"Brouwer's Sonata for Horn and Piano, written between 1995 and 1999 after the death of two loved ones, reflects both her intense emotional pain and her strong faith. The first movement, "Hymn," begins in an atmosphere of numbness; static rhythms, dissonant harmonies, and muted horn effects create a feeling of distance. As the movement continues, rhythmic complexities develop within the ethereal mood. For the horn player, the movement demands mastery of legato playing and strong breath control. The second and final movement, "Riding to Higher Clouds," lies in stark contrast to the first as it quickly passes through many conflicting emotions such as tension, confusion, reflection, and liberation. Harsh rhythmic passages requiring good tonguing technique, speed, and agility, are interspersed with rhythmically displaces, powerful bell tones. Brouwer masterfully exploits new harmonies and colors, retaining a high level of emotional investment despite the movement's formidable difficulties." - Erin Mullen, Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, 2004

"The 'Sonata for Horn and Piano' reveals a high degree of emotional investment.  Melodically driven, harmonically very tonal, it moves through a contemplative first movement, "Hymn" to an upbeat one, Riding to Higher Clouds", forming a contrasted but symmetrical diptych." - Fanfare, November/December 1999

"The two-movement Horn Sonata is an expressive and quietly satisfying work."  - American Record Guide, November/December 1999