Preludes and Debka, for clarinet and string quartet (2009) | 13’


This is an arrangement of the Preludes and Debka for Trombone and String Quartet, and was written for clarinetist Vasko Dukovski in 2009.  Note that besides the change in the “solo” instrument”, there are differences from that original version in all of the string parts.

A “debka” is a Middle Eastern dance, used in both Arab and Israeli communities—the dance and its music is, as in the last section of this piece, normally in the form of a theme and variations. I found this melody in an anthology of Sephardic music when I was beginning the composition of the piece, and it jumped out as being a wonderful theme for the trombone and strings to play with.

The piece grows from a quiet mysterious opening, highlighting an echoing, moody statement, and then a related idea in sharper, repeated notes; this leads to a scherzo-like section where the melody is traded between the clarinet and strings; then a slow, tender duet between the clarinet and first violin, which after a clarinet cadenza, leads to the variations on the debka melody–mostly lively and playful, eventually becoming rather wild as it brings back the opening material in a new character, and then ending with a reprise of the debka theme.

Other arrangements of this piece:

Trombone and Orchestra (2009)

Trombone and String Quartet,

See the links for these pages for score samples and information on purchasing scores and parts.


Premiere: Nov. 2009: Vasko Dukovski, clarinet; strings from the Juilliard School; Juilliard School of Music, New York, NY
January 2011: Bronx Arts Ensemble, Yonkers, NY
May 2019: Vasko Dukovski, clarinet, Cassatt String Quartet, Scarsdale, NY

Preludes and Debka (Clarinet & String Quartet) Score sample

thumbnail of Preludes and Debka (Clarinet & String Quartet) Score sample

To purchase score and parts, contact Gerald Cohen:

PDF version of score and parts: $20
Printed version of score and parts: $35 + postage

See audio for Preludes and Debka for Trombone and String Quartet (the audio is of that version with trombone).