In the early 2010’s, my father Michael Reaves was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia--a brutal progressive neurological disease that not only affects memory, but also cognitive functions. In addition, it is also common for victims of this disease to hallucinate and question their own reality. My father had been the longtime Principal 2nd Violinist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, but was forced to retire in 2016 due to the effects of this horrible disease. Within months of his retirement, he entirely lost the ability to play the instrument he had played since he was a child.
This piece begins in mystery and suspended time as a way to try to illustrate how my father might have felt while trying to process these hallucinations and a perceived alternate reality, as well as the uncertainty and sorrow expressed among my family. Gradually the piece transitions into a celebration of Dad’s wonderful life, with particular appreciation for his kind nature and strong character. The final bar is full of conflict: there is strong harmony in the B-major interval of the lower strings, but uncertainty about life beyond expressed in the dissonant left-hand pizzicato of the upper strings.
The work was completed on February 8th, 2020. It was only a couple weeks later when my father lost his ability to swallow. He passed away on February 24th, 2020. I played this piece for him the day before he passed while he was on his deathbed. The formal premiere came on March 8th, 2020 at Oklahoma City University, Dad’s alma mater.
The title “Otho” comes from my father’s middle name, Michael Otho Reaves, which he shared with my grandfather William Otho Reaves, who died after being struck by a drunk driver 17 years before I was born. This piece is my way of honoring them both.
In hopes that a cure for Lewy Body Dementia can be discovered, all proceeds from the sale of this sheet music will be donated directly to the Lewy Body Dementia Association to aid in their research.
Available as a PDF download.