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Fantasy On Twelve Strings two guitars

Program Notes

This work for two guitars won the Cygnus Ensemble's 1999 Composition Competition, the prize was a Merkin hall performance by the  Anderson-Fader Guitar Duo. Since then the outstanding William Anderson and Oren Fader have given me a composer's ultimate compliment: they've played the piece over thirty times throughout the United States, in Denmark and Mexico, and on multiple live radio broadcasts.  


As the title implies, Fantasy on Twelve Strings is through-composed, with many emotional ups and downs. Though its moods might sometimes be excited, tender, fearful, or exuberant, overall it keeps a spunky character that grows from its strong pulse and syncopated rhythmic motives. The general outline of the one-movement work is as follows:

  I. Excited, with nervous energy; Each guitar introduces one theme respectively that will permeate the entire work.

 II. Pizzicato; There is no pause between this and the preceding section. A polyrhythmic motive in one guitar is punctuated by melodic riffs        in the other. The pizzicato effect creates a mood of suppressed tension.

 III. Desolate; Slow and sparse, with an ostinato consisting of bell-like harmonics.

 IV. Kinky; More harmonics grow from those in the preceding section. To my ear the mood is a mixture of subtle funky and subtle perverse.

  V. Cantando; A brief, lush response to the preceding section.

 VI. Ominous; Like section two above, this consists of a pizzicato background with melodic outbursts. The mood, however, is very different.

 VII. Exuberant; This section functions as a recapitulation of the opening.

VIII. Sweet, expressive; This section functions as a coda.

Listen to the Anderson-

Fader Guitar Duo play Fantasy On Twelve strings

The Anderson-Fader Duo released a CD in 2013 on the Furious Artisans label entitled "Le Cirque," which includes the Fantasy on Twelve Strings as well as works

by Charles Wuorinen, David Lang, Gillian Welch and other composers. Learn more or purchase by clicking here. What the reviewers said:


Martin Rokeach’s 1995 Fantasy on 12 Strings and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Wuorinen’s Dodecadactyl are fascinating works for two guitars that cleanse

the listener’s musical palate.  Maria Nockin, Fanfare Magazine


Martin Rokeach’s Fantasy on 12 Strings (i.e., the strings of the two guitars) won the Cygnus Ensemble’s award for composition in 2006. It is a truly lovely work,

its more subdued moments positively aglow with contented reflection. Fanfare Magazine


Martin Rokeach’s infectious Fantasy on 12 Strings at first had me thinking of the kalimba (the so-called African thumb piano); perhaps it was the fetching

rhythmic patterns executed with a dry, crisp attack. The figures pulse with vitality and invention, recede for a lovely, delicately poised middle section and

then return with their various constituents reassembled into a convincing finish. --Robert Schulslaper, Fanfare Magazine


The New York premiere of Mr. Rokeach's "Fantasy" made exceptional use of the guitar's many voices, rhythms and moods. New Music Connoisseur


Fantasy on Twelve Strings is a work of shifting moods . . . outgoing, American style. Yes it's a fantasy, free in form and episodic, but the sections flow

into each other quite naturally and the overall shape is clear and coherent. New Music Connoisseur




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