Reviews and Testimonials
Meditations and Memories (Two Flutes of the Same Kind) - Excerpts from a review by Rebecca Johnson from the Fall 2016 edition of The Flutist Quarterly, Volume 71
“Meditations and Memories is a sweet, short duet that is colorful and frequently canonic in nature. The composer’s program notes indicate the sources and inspirations for these melodic fragments, which are used to generate sections of the piece. These influences include the opening of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 6, and Hoffman’s own Fantasypiece.” “A thoughtful benefit to purchasing Meditations and Memories is that even though the two parts are printed in scored notation, the piece comes with two copies, allowing for each player to have her own part.
The scored notation is helpful for ensemble playing, but the inclusion of the second copy improves distribution and avoids photocopying. Additionally, the pagination is such that a brief fermata would allow for a quick page turn without disrupting the intent of the music.” “Meditations and Memories would probably fall somewhere between Level D and E, as described in the rubric for the booklet developed by members of the NFA Pedagogy Committee, Selected Flute Repertoire and Studies: A Graded Guide. Though the range used is not huge, the requirement for excellent subdivision at a slow tempo likely requires an advancing young musician. Hoffman’s Meditations and Memories is a useful duet that flute teachers will appreciate adding to their repertoire.”
0 Absalom (TTBB) - Excerpts from a review by Jason Overall from the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, Volume 25, Number 8, October, 2016.
"Settings of this emotionally charged text abound in the repertoire, and this addition successfully employs the sonorous richness that typifies many previous versions. A solo line (either section or single singer) introduces the piece with the contextualizing preface "When David heard..." The languorous, meandering melody carefully sets up linear tritone relationships at pivotal moments in quasi-recitative. This introduction is marked "Dirge 1" and establishes the formal organization. The familiar quotation of David ("O my son Absalom, would I had died instead of you.") appears as a refrain for full chorus. The tritones of the opening solo reappear first in stark harmonies then as an arresting stack of two juxtaposed tritones. The careful preparation of these intervals avoids an aural interpretation as a French augmented-6th chord, although it is voiced appropriately as such within the key of the piece. Following the refrain, "Dirge 2" repeats the opening text this time in a four-part texture with overlapping entrances that flirt with canonic operations. At the culmination, the French 6th chord reappears, and it begins to take on a role as the signature harmony of the setting. A repeat of the refrain is indicated to follow, then "Dirge 3" sets the opening text in four-part homophony. A final repetition of the refrain caps the piece..."
Excerpt of a review of the CD, Continental Drift, which includes Arirang Variations for two low flutes - From www.oconnellthemusic.com:
"Stanley M. Hoffman’s Arirang Variations began as a piano solo, the composer arranging it last year for Sheridan’s use. Another work for the two flutes, it takes a Korean melody and offers four variations on it, the original tune announced at either end of the work. This is intended for young players, to give them some intellectual impetus and to improve their skills; needless to say, these players handle it with aplomb and the sort of polish that would be the admiration of any player at any age."
Excerpt of a review from Sequenza21.com/ChristianBCarey.com by Christian Carey April 4, 2016
"Dreamtime" by Zodiac Trio
Kliment Krylovskiy, clarinet
Vanessa Mollard, violin
Riko Higuma, piano
Blue Griffin Records CD/download
"Dreamtime is capped off with Across the Universe, a twelve-piece collection featuring one-minute pieces all inspired by signs of the Zodiac. It is a great way to put a distinctive stamp on the commissioning process (each piece responds to its particular sign thoughtfully and imaginatively) and to provide a “taster platter” of several composers’ styles. Standouts include Stanley M. Hoffman’s lilting dance for Capricorn, James Romig’s delicately mysterious Virgo, John McDonald’s piquant Scorpio, and Francine Trester’s bumptious Aries."
Excerpt from a review by Patricia George, Editor, Flute Talk Magazine of
Prelude and Fughetta for Alto Flute and Organ, Duration: 4:08
Prelude and Fughetta for C Flute and Organ, Duration: 4:08
"This is an excellent addition to the flute and organ repertoire."
From Choral Director Magazine
Sergei Rachmaninoff, arr. Stanley M. Hoffman
Stanley M. Hoffman dedicated this choral arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise to the renowned Cantus Vocal Ensemble. The lower choral parts accompany a soloist, who sings Rachmaninoff’s haunting melody. The accompaniment parts are sung on a neutral syllable and should work together as one instrument. A high tenor or a soprano could sing the solo line. If you have a local voice teacher, it might be nice to feature him/her because the solo requires significant skill and artistry. Not for beginning ensembles, the choral parts divide into seven parts at one point. Hoffman’s arrangement is also available for SATB ensembles.
Please click here to read a review of Fanfare, Tango and Fughetta on Hebrew Themes, which appears in the October 2013 edition of the ITG Journal, the journal of the International Trumpet Guild.
Review by Jake Walburn
"Addressing a completely different aesthetic are Stanley M. Hoffman’s Meditations and Memories, a restful, gorgeous and almost plainchant-like duet for alto flutes..."
Review by Shaun Barlow
"...my absolute favourite track on the disc... is Stanley M. Hoffman’s Meditations and Memories... If you’re a flautist and you haven’t yet visited www.lowflutes.com, I’d visit right now!"
Review by Greg Borrowman
"Meditations and Memories is a small duet for alto flutes by American composer Stanley M. Hoffman. He mentions a number of associations with other composers, the main theme reminiscent of the bassoon opening to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The two flutes weave in and out of each other in meditations on this material in an easily assimilated arch-like form which moves through a new ‘memory’ theme before returning to the material of the opening."
The following text is excerpted from a review of Beau Soir (Beautiful Evening) (Debussy/Hoffman, arr. for SATB & piano) that appears on line on the Web site of Spectrum Music.
"This fine arrangement of Debussy's solo song is by Stanley M. Hoffman. The vocal parts are carefully developed from the piano part, which Debussy filled with exotic arpeggios. The English translation is beautifully conceived..."
The following text is excerpted from a review of In the Shadow of Your Wings (SATB) that appeared in the April 2011 edition of The American Organist, the journal of the American Guild of Organists (AGO):
"A homophonic setting of Psalm 63, the composer has painted the text, creating an emotional impact through the use of suspensions and modulations. This is appropriate for a synagogue, as well as for a church choir or college chorus."
The following text is excerpted from a review of Remember (SATB) that appeared in the March/April 2011 edition of Choir & Organ.
"Stanley Hoffman's a cappella setting of Christina Rossetti's Remember is touchingly simple...worthy of performance by concert choirs."
Review by Jeremy Summerly
The following text is excerpted from an on line article about multicultural choral music published by the Montana Chapter of the American Choral Director's Association (ACDA) in which Yih'yu l'ratson (May the words of my mouth) (SATB) is mentioned.
"Not particularly new, but relatively uncirculated. Beautiful harmonies."
Review by Janet Morgenstern
The following text is excerpted from a review of In the Shadow of Your Wings (SATB) that appeared in the March 2010 edition of Pastoral Musician (The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians).
"The text here is from Psalm 63, [modernized] from the King James text by the composer... The musical setting is homophonic throughout, and follows an ABA shape with most of the weight in the B section. At the opening, there are some repetitions of phrases with a 'quasi-echo' direction, but this does not become a regular formal feature---and, indeed, when this music returns at the end of the piece, the echo directions are absent. A few phrases begin in dramatic unison, helping to give shape to the progress. The composer responds effectively to local textual details; the 'dry and thirsty land' sounds arid indeed, and the later turns toward rejoicing are audible. There are momentary divisi for the alto and bass parts."
Review by Alan Lewis, Ph.D.
The following text is excerpted from a review of Mi y'maleil (SATB & piano) that appears on line in the bulletin Melisma, the journal of the North Central Chapter of the American Choral Director's Asociation (ACDA).
"This is a great up-tempo piece that my students loved! There are basically three melodies in this piece. It works well to have all of the students learn the melodies together. The song is in Dminor; learn the melody using solfege. Spend several days just singing Melody A every day. When your students know that well, go on to Melody B and learn that using solfege. Put the two melodies together and the students will think they are quite something! Sing it in Hebrew. Make certain that you start working on this piece early because it will take a lot of time to learn it well."
Review by Glenyta Hanson, NC-ACDA Repertoire & Standards, Committee Chair, Sioux Falls, SD
The following text is excerpted from a review of The Scattered Leaves (SATB & piano) that appeared on line on the Spectrum Music.
"The Scattered Leaves, by Stanley M. Hoffman, English text, SATB and piano. Composed in modified strophic style in three verses, this unusual and moving piece is dedicated to the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust. The text is a powerful poem written by Joseph H. Albeck in 1995. The use of the Yiddish term Khurbn (total destruction) resounds throughout this short anthem. It also makes reference to the Shoah which is Hebrew for destruction. The piece closes quietly on a double piano dynamic marking, repeating the word Khurbn four times, as if all of the dead souls have turned to dust. This is a great piece to program during the 60th anniversary year of the founding of Israel."
The following text is excerpted from a review of Variations on "Dank sei dir, Herr" (organ manuals or piano) that appeared in the September 2007 edition of Pastoral Musician (The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians).
"These short continuous variations are set for organ manuals or piano solo. ...The music is of easy to medium difficulty, and reads easily. Harmonically, the variations do not progress with new harmony, but use changing figuration to achieve variation. The challenge in making this work well on the organ is to have a very secure legato and avoid sloppy note changes, which can easily be dealt with on the piano with judicious use of the damper pedal."
Review by Richard A. Konzen, D.M.A.
The following text is excerpted from a review of Psalm 117 (TTBB) that appeared in the February 2005 edition of Sounding Board (Volume XXXVI Number 3) published by the Iowa Choral Directors Association, Inc. "Rhythmic sections in minor bracket a slower middle section full of suspensions in this exciting work... the piece is of moderate difficulty... this is an excellent selection deserving of performance."
The following text is excerpted from a review of Yism'chu (soprano solo, SATB & optional keyboard) that appeared in the September 2004 edition of The American Organist, the journal of the American Guild of Organists (AGO):
"Five performance options make this a usable and flexible Sabbath prayer."
The following review of Yih'yu l'ratson (May the words of my mouth) (SATB) appeared in the August 2004 edition of issue of Choral Journal, the official publication of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA):
"Stanley M. Hoffman's setting of this traditional Sabbath prayer is a beautiful and accessible addition to the Jewish choral repertory. The text is in Hebrew, and the edition offers a singing translation in English: "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."
The piece is written in the style of a hymn or chorale, featuring homophonic texture throughout. Melodic lines consist of primarily stepwise motion, and the easily approachable range of these melodies gradually expands to allow for a moving climax. The harmony, based in triads and an f-minor tonal center, contains beautiful suspensions at each cadence. Hoffman utilizes a variety of rhythmic patterns featuring simple and compound divisions of the beat, and changes meter fluidly to allow for proper text stress.
The moderate difficulty of this piece makes it accessible to a wide variety of performing groups at all levels, yet does not detract at all from the piece's inherent beauty. In fact, Yih'yu l'ratson allows an excellent opportunity for less advanced choirs to approach unaccompanied singing and basic musical issues such as phrasing and listening across the ensemble.
Two other versions of Yih'yu l'ratson are available from the publisher, for cantor (high or low voice), and keyboard."
Review by R. Daniel Hughes, Jr.
The following text is excerpted from a review of the Arsis Audio CD Lamentation & Exultation that appeared in the July/August 2003 issue of the Fanfare Magazine (Volume 26, No.6) - my settings of Psalm 23 and Psalm 121 appear on this CD:
"If you have an affinity for Choral music, this disc deserves very serious consideration for your collection The program is intelligently, even brilliantly chosen; the performances are simply beautiful;
and the recorded sound is excellent--a good blend of clarity and the spaciousness of the chapel."
"The University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel Choir consists of some 40 singers who, under Randi Von Ellefon's leadership, have learned to blend their voices into a unified, rich, perfectly balanced sound." "Intonation is just about perfect throughout, and the music's full range of emotion and color is completely conveyed. Tone is never forced, even at forte levels, and tonal body is retained at the softest end of the dynamic spectrum."
"The range of music here might almost seem too wide,--perhaps juxtaposing incompatible styles. But that turns out not to be the case. Ellefson has chosen wisely, and ordered the program in a way that flows very well. There are some wonderful discoveries here..."
"There is little more to say. This is enthusiastically recommended to anyone for whom this repertoire would seem to appeal."
Review by Henry Fogel
The following review of the Arsis Audio CD Lamentation & Exultation appears on the Web site of Primarily A Cappella - Psalm 23 and Psalm 121 appear on this CD:
"The two extremes in sacred music are lamenting and praising. In their take on the subjects, the Rockefeller Chapel Choir, led by Randi Von Ellefson, chose pieces from the Renaissance and the 20th century. There are several settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah including that of Palestrina and di Lasso. There is a lovely Easter Anthem by William Billings as well as beautiful psalm settings by Stanley Hoffman. On this CD the choir alternates lamentation with exultation. Daniel Pinkham's striking "Here Repose, O Broken Body" provides quiet and thoughtful ending to an emotionally varied recording."
The following review of Yih'yu l'ratson (May the words of my mouth) (SATB) appears on line at the Popplers Music Web site:
"A beautiful, a cappella arrangement of a traditional Sabbath prayer. The writing is very choral in style with open intervals demanding tone and blend along with tight but brief dissonances that add punch to flowing vocal lines. Highly Recommended!"
"An intensely moving, introspective, modal setting of this traditional Sabbath prayer with English translation. Also available for high and low voice and keyboard."
The following review of Yih'yu l'ratson (May the words of my mouth) (SATB) appeared in the July/August 2003 issue of Creator Magazine:
"This is a nice, short little gem that has both Hebrew and English text. The choral writing is homophonic and the ranges are not extreme, making this approachable for even a small choir who can sing in four parts, and the piece is available as a solo for either high or low voice with keyboard accompaniment as well for those interested in doing this as a unison anthem. Great for an ecumenical or prayer service, consider doing this anthem through twice, first with the Hebrew text, then the English. Well done."
The following review of the Arsis Audio CD Lamentation & Exultation appeared in the Summer 2003 issue of the Tampa Bay Composers Forum newsletter - Psalm 23 and Psalm 121 appear on this CD:
"TBCF member Stanley M. Hoffman has had two prayerful, sweeping anthems recorded on a new release by the Rockefeller Chapel Choir on the ARSIS Label. The settings are of the Psalms 23 and 121 and they lilt with harmonic suspensions and rich, close voice writing laid under gentle melodies. The works definitely have double potential in that they are complex enough in texture to be suitable for concert performances, and yet in temper and length very applicable to insertion in a religious service as an anthem or offertory. Both works have the slow moving modulations that are suitable to a 'cathedral' setting - not rushing in to capture the listener, but as the psalms have been used historically, to be a direct call to God in mood of reverence and supplication."
"Ione Press of Boston publishes Hoffman, and particularly church music directors would do well to order either the scores for perusal or the CD entitled Lamentation & Exultation via www.arsisaudio.com."
Review by A. Paul Johnson
New England composer Stanley Hoffman has combined an incredibly moving text about death, suffering, and hope with beautiful compositional techniques and wonderful text painting. Hoffman's choral writing features many 7th, 9th and 11th chords and frequent bitonality set in a declamatory fashion designed to let the text be heard. Difficult chromatic modulations are commonplace and they will challenge the best of choral ensembles...but they are well worth the effort. The piece concludes with the text "rain is falling hesitantly...and a little, falling on the leaves, becomes pearls waiting for the sun." Without being trite or hackneyed, the voices create the feeling of rain falling and the sense of renewal and hope that comes with the spring sun. Rain is a very difficult choral composition with long phrases and extended and exposed harmonies. It requires mature and flexible voices capable of delivering a highly emotional text. It is well worth the effort.
The following text is excerpted from a review of A Psalm Beyond the Silences that appeared in the March 2001 issue of Choral Journal, the official publication of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA):
"This tribute to the victims of the Holocaust... is based on a poem by Joseph Albeck, a direct and thoughtful prayer for the departed, calling for prayer through joy and pain, a psalm beyond silence.
Each of the five stanzas ends with some slight variation of the phrase "a psalm beyond the silence," from which the title is derived, but the final stanza calls directly to God by saying "a psalm beyond Thy silence." In itself, this raises the often-heard theological question--if there is a God, how could He/She be silent during such human tragedy.
...By calling our attention to the past... this composition by Hoffman... brings us to remembrance.
...The setting has merit for the sincerity of its approach... it would be an interesting piece for a... high school or religious choir, and a connection to the tragic events of the Second World War."
The following review of Psalm 67 appeared in the May 2000 issue of The Diapason:
"The organ (on three staves) has a busy, soloistic part that offers wide contrast with the homophonic choral setting. Using an ABA form, the music has a quiet radiance to it with the choral parts
easier than that for the organ. Very attractive setting!"
The following review of Psalm 67 appeared in the May/June 2000 issue of Creator Magazine:
"For a composer, setting an entire Psalm presents several problems which might not occur with other texts. Chief among them is the 'history and tradition' of Psalm settings, and the amount of text one has to cover. This can lead to a 'sing song' type of setting, in which the chief end of the piece is to get through all the words. Hoffman's setting of Psalm 67 is a marvelous testimony to the fact that the trap can be avoided. The music shines here, and unlike the Ives setting of this text, the overall mood is subdued. One will need an organ, and a pretty good organist, especially if this is sung by a small choir. Don't let the stop selection muddy the middle tessitura. Keep the sound forward in the face. Use this title to great effect in worship. Highly recommended."
The following review of Psalm 23 appeared in the July/August 1999 issue of Creator Magazine:
"Looking for a challenging setting of this 'old favorite' text? One that uses inclusive language? Hoffman has produced a lyrical alternative that is worthy of consideration. It is a bit 'concert' in flavor, but nonetheless suitable for worship. There is multiple divisi, and an alto solo, and the participants must not be afraid of a bit of dissonance or notational complexity. This is not for every choir, but worthwhile for those who choose."
Testimonials received from musicians after departing his job as Senior Editor at ECS Publishing Group
“I have so enjoyed working with you over the past years, growing as a composer.”
“It has been an honour and a great pleasure to work with you for these many years. You are a wonderful editor and I shall miss you.
“Working together with you has always been a great pleasure, and I appreciate so much the diligence and artistry you have always shown in creating our scores... You are a great editor, Stanley, and I want to thank you for all the beautiful work you have done on my scores these past few years. Thanks also for being such a gracious colleague. Anyone who needs engraving or editing should definitely be in touch with you. All best wishes to you, my friend. (And you're a darn good composer as well!)
“Our partnership has been exceptionally significant for me...”
“I have learned all of these wonderful things from you while working with you. I implement those things into my 'copying',... you have made me think, and rethink, how to notate. I am forever grateful0 to you for these things. And I am forever grateful to you for these things. And your consummate professionalism. It is incomparable.”
“I will keep your contact information on hand for assistance that I may need in future projects. Also, if any other composers I talk to need a good editor, I will be happy to refer them to you.”
“You will be sorely missed Stanley. I’ll keep an ear out for opportunities for you.”
“You have such amazing talents and wisdom in the music world. I will miss corresponding with you and your exacting (and speedy!) work.
“Bob and Cynthia [Schuneman] loved you and cherished the work you did for them, Stanley, and you deserve to land on your feet in another terrific position. It was always a pleasure working with you. If I hear of anything worthy of your enormous skill set I will be in touch.”
“Stanley has done beautiful work on 47 of my works now published by E. C. Schirmer (ECS Publishing). Whether it's full time or job by job, he does great work and is a pleasure to work with.”
“Having spent 16 years in the Print Music Publishing Industry (and another 16 years as Head of Reader's Digest Music) I learned that the best thing about our business was when I was lucky enough to cross paths with a highly competent, knowledgeable person of integrity. I cherished those relationships. I include you in that special group.”
“I'm sure now that the word is out, you will have more work than you can shake a stick at in no time! I was just thinking about you the other day. Man, I wish Stanley was available!”
“It has, indeed, been an honor working with you, Stanley, and we're grateful for all your efforts on behalf of Juli's music.”
—David Sims (re. Juliana Hall Music)
“I do not want to lose touch with you, and not just because I like your work, but because you are a stellar person for whom I have great respect.”
—David Ashley White
17 December 2020
"I am very happy to recommend Stanley M. Hoffman for music engraving/editing work. For a number of years, E.C. Schirmer has been an important publisher of my music.
Every single piece of mine, whether large or small, that I submitted to E. C. Schirmer, has been engraved by Stanley. His work, which also involves editing, has been always flawlessly presented. And it is also beautiful to behold.
I must admit that I am very particular about the look of engraved music, whether composed by me or others. As I consider Stanley's work, I have never seen any score that is not only flawless, in terms of its accuracy, but also beautiful, from the point of view of its presentation.
During the many years that I have worked with Stanley, I have always felt very fortunate with the practical and artistic advice he has given me—I consider engraving/editing a fine art, and in every way, Stanley Hoffman has proven to be the master of his art and craft.
The effects of Covid-19 have badly affected so many. Thus, it is regretful that an artist like Stanley must also suffer because of it. Of course, he is not alone—many who work in the arts have similar stories. But in my effort to show my support, I asked him to engrave three major pieces that were, until recently, only in my manuscript. I encourage anyone else who needs the assistance of a superior engraver/editor to do the same—you will be very pleased and impressed with his work."
David Ashley White
C. W. Moores, Jr. Professor of Composition, University of Houston [now retired]
Composer-in-Residence, Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, Houston