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Songbook Review: Homage
Justin Levitt
Cover image of the songbook Homage by Justin Levitt
Justin Levitt
2018 / Justin Levitt
44 pages / 7 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
Homage is the eighth volume in a series of solo piano songbooks by Bay Area pianist/composer Justin Levitt. Like Volume 7 (The Performer), the subtitle is “six pieces for solo piano,” but there are actually seven - a “bonus track” of sorts! This book is also somewhat different from the other volumes in that the music “exposes and deals with an array of private issues and personal experiences that I have worked through. The title Homage felt appropriate as most of the pieces in this volume are paying tribute to life and those who have passed before us.” (quoted from the “Note from the composer” near the front of the book.) As a result, powerful emotions are expressed and much of the music is very poignant. I have thoroughly enjoyed proofing, editing and reviewing all eight volumes, but I think Homage is my favorite.

All of the books in the series are elegant without being stuffy. The distinctive and very minimal line drawing of Levitt playing the piano again graces the cover, this time printed with silver ink on a black textured paper - gorgeous! The book is in the 9”x12” format of classical music, has a stapled binding, and the scores are printed on a beautiful cream-colored paper stock. The book also includes a bio and note from Levitt as well as a description of each piece and the inspiration for it. At the end of the book, there are several quotes endorsing Levitt’s music. It’s a beautiful book that I would think anyone would be proud to display (AND PLAY!) on his or her piano.

The pieces are placed in the book pretty much from easiest to most-advanced, and I would put that range from upper-intermediate to early-advanced. All of the pieces include pedal markings, metronome settings, and plenty of dynamics. There are a few reaches of more than an octave, most of which are in the first piece, “Homage,” and alternatives are suggested in the score. None of the rhythms are tricky to count. A couple of pieces include cross-handed passages, which are always fun.

As a long-time piano teacher, I can easily recommend all of these books to piano teachers and their students at any age. Pianists looking for some contemporary solo piano with substance that is also fun to play have come to the right place! All eight of the books in the series are available from www.justinlevitt.com. Very highly recommended!

The titles, the keys they are in and the number of pages are:

Homage - Key of G (1 sharp) - 5 pages
Release - Key of C# minor (4 sharps) - 8 pages
Your Hand in My Hand - Key of D (2 sharps) - 4 pages
Stand Up, Stay Up - Key of E minor (1 sharp) - 3 pages
Behind the Smile - Key of D minor (1 flat)/ D major (2 sharps) - 10 pages
Goodbye For Now - Key of B (5 sharps) - 5 pages
The Web - Key of B/ G# minor (5 sharps) - 6 pages
January 23, 2019
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