I wrote Tarantella for solo piano in 2005 when pianist Alexandre Dossin expressed interest in having a piece from me. He and I were faculty colleagues for one year (2001-2002) here at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and we became friends during that time. A couple of years after he left for Wisconsin, he heard another piece of mine, the Montuno and Fugue for two pianos and asked where “his” piece was. Alex is one of the finest young pianists in the world (top prize winner in the Argerich International Competition, among other things), so I told him I’d definitely write him something if he were willing to play it. I decided to write a tarantella after hearing several guitarists at the Guitar Foundation of America 2005 competition playing tarantellas by Mertz and Castelnuovo-Tedesco. I liked the driving rhythms and virtuosity and felt that this might be the right type of piece to write for Alex. The basic melodic and harmonic building block of the piece is a “z-cell,” something Bartók used all the time that has qualities appealing both to fans of tonality and to those who like some dissonance in their music. In this way it is an homage to Bartók but also to one of my professors in graduate school, Elliott Antokoletz, a leading Bartók scholar and the person who taught me about Bartók’s harmonic language.