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Keyboard Music
Piano Solo
Organ Solo
Organ and Percussion
Nocturne in Memoriam Robert Helps


Commission by Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in Tampa, Florida, “Nocturne in memoriam Robert Helps” was written as an homage to my former composition teacher Robert Helps. The piece uses some of the same techniques as Helps’ Homage a Fauré.



Five Monsters

Five Monsters is a set of free atonal works for solo piano.



Radiolarians is a free atonal work  for solo piano. It makes use of polyrhythmic textures and moody atmospheres.


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Commissioned by Christopher Marks for 2019 East Texas Pipe Organ Festival. Roulade has been featured on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams.”



Missouri Sonata


Commissioned by Wyatt Smith. The Missouri Sonata has been featured on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams.”



Romance and Tarantella


Commissioned by Christopher Marks for the 2014 Organ Historical Society National Convention. The Romance and Tarantella has been featured on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams.”



Trois Nouvelles Etudes

Three Etudes for organ. The first is a pedal etude. The second stretches the hands to perform on three manuals simultaneously. The final is a toccata.


Toccata - Passacaglia - Fugue


Commissioned by Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church for the dedication of their Cassavant Organ. This piece has been featured at a number of organ competitions.


Sursum Sonata


A Sonata for organ solo written for my friend Laura Ross.



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Toccata - Adagio - Fugue

Toccata-Adagio-Fugue for Organ and Percussion. The work was commission by the Organ Historical Society for their 60th anniversary convention and was premiered at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. A grand Toccata is followed by a languid and beautiful Adagio and an exciting and virtuosic Fugue.


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Chamber Music

Sailing to Byzantium (Cello and Piano)


A mournful cello solo written for my friend Ho Anthony Ahn. 



El Café Iridiscente (Cello and Piano)

A cello sonata influenced by Latin Jazz rhythms and harmonies.


Influences (piano trio)

Kurt Knecht’s piano trio “Influences” for violin, cello, and piano. The work draws on diverse influences including George Clinton, Miles Davis, Bela Bartok, Olivier Messiaen, Alberto Ginastera, Frederik Chopin, Alexander Scriabin, and Arnold Schoenberg.”


The Eternal Clock (viola and organ)


Kurt Knecht’s Eternal Clock for viola (or violin) and organ is a moody and ominous work that creates emotional meaning through insistently committed rhythmic repetitions in the solo part over a static organ part.


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Meditation and Ecstasy (clarinet and piano)


Kurt Knecht’s Meditation and Ecstasy for clarinet and piano. A lyric slow slow movement gradually climbs to soaring climaxes followed by an ecstatic modal dance in mixed meter. The Meditation is also available in a version for viola. 



Little Garden Beastiary (recorder quartet)


Kurt Knecht’s “Little Garden Bestiary” for recorder ensemble. It was commissioned by Nebraska Wesleyan University and Betsy Bobenhouse. The work is comprised of five color pieces for SATB recorder ensemble in five movements based on garden animals. 1 Birds, 2 Crickets, 3 Worms, 4 Beetles, 5 Butterflies.


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Sonata for Trombone

A one movement sonata for trombone and piano that uses jaunty rhythms, canons, and mixed meter.

Sonata for Flute and Piano

A three movement sonata for flute and piano performed by John Bailey, flute and Christopher Marks, piano. 1. Contrasting Color Schemes 2 Nocturne 3 Tabla Rasa

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SATB unaccompanied
SATB (piano/organ)


Choir and other instruments
Put Out My Eyes

A setting of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Put out my eyes” as translated by Kurt Knecht. The poem was originally written as a love poem for a woman that Rilke loved but was later included in his Stundenbuch collection of love poems for God. The setting is for SATB chorus with minimal divisi.

Put out my eyes, I can see you. Throw away my ears, I can hear you. And without feet, can I go to you. And without mouth, I can still evoke you. Break off my arms, I hold you with my heart as with a hand. Stop my heart and my brain will beat. And if you throw fire in my brain, I will carry you in my blood. (trans. Kurt Knecht)


Sero Te Amavi

A setting of St. Augustine’s famous “Late Have I Loved You” passage from the confessions. This piece is available from Walton Music.

The Turn of Seasons

A beautiful text about the passing of time from conductor/poet Robert Bode. The text is set for SATB chorus non-divisi. After the chorus sings the text, they repeat the setting with the addition of a soprano soloist that sings a new melody over the original setting. The choir then begins a gentle counterpoint that gradually climaxes into a stunning, emotionally satisfying conclusion. Perfect for a Fall concert.



A setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ text, “Heaven/Haven: a nun takes the veil” set in 8 part counterpoint. This piece is available through Colla Voce Music.

'Tis Love

Commissioned for the wedding of Allison Lutz Cole and Michael James Florek, “‘Tis Love” sets a passage from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound” where the Moon is speaking to the Earth. The setting is easily accessible by almost any choir.



A setting of texts from the book of Lamentations is an emotional work that draws on surprising harmonies and aleatoric techniques. After the overwhelming sadness, and message of hope emerges at the end. This piece was commissioned by Dan Monek and Marietta College. 




Michelangelo's On Beauty (SSAATTBB chorus)


James Bass conducts the University of Miami Chorale on their album What Dreams May Come. This piece is available from Walton Music.

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Prayer for Peace


A English setting of Rabbi Nathan of Breslov’s well known “A Prayer for Peace” from the Shabbat liturgy for SATB chorus and piano or unaccompanied. The text expresses the desire for universal peace. Technically, it is well within the reach of any choir, and the music’s expressive language will make it an audience favorite. This piece was written for Charles Bruffy and Jennifer Rosenblatt.



O Radiant Love

O Radiant Love was commissioned by Blue Valley Northwest High School, Beth Richey-Sullivan – conductor, for their performance at the 2019 KMEA convention. The piece combines a short Latin phrase from St. Augustine which says, “you have wounded me with the arrows of your love” with texts from the students which express their anger and frustration at the violence and hatred in the world as well as their longing for love and a place of belonging. An exciting piano part combines with dynamic singing for an extremely moving work.



Prayer of St. Margaret of Scotland

A setting of one of the few extant texts we have from St. Margaret of Scotland for Soprano, SATB chorus and organ. St. Margaret was the 11th century queen of Scotland known for her devout religious life and care for the poor “O, my children, fear the Lord, for they who fear Him shall lack nothing. And if you love him, He will give you, my darlings, prosperity in this life, and everlasting happiness with all the saints.”



Let There Be Music

Commissioned by the Lied Center for the Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska for their 25th anniversary season, Let There Be Music is a setting of poems by Nebraska poets William Kloefkorn, Carolyn Renfrew, and Willa Cather. The piece is easily accessible because it was written for mass amateur chorus. There are many canons and beautiful melodies accompanied by a challenging piano part.



Ordo Rachelis

The first movement is for SSATB chorus unaccompanied. The second movement adds piano. This piece was commissioned by David Matthews for James Bass and the USF Chamber Singers for the 10th anniversary of September 11th. The piece is in two movements. The first movements and uses a Latin text from a Medieval Liturgical play about Rachel grieving for her children. The first movement is inspired by the writing of Josquin des Prez. The second movement adds vigorous and dramatic piano part to create a moving wall of sound. The movements may be performed separately or as a whole.






A setting of Ps. 121 in Hebrew Originally it was written for TTBB chorus and was later adapted for SATB chorus where it has been used for many years as a featured anthem in the State of Nebraska’s annual holocaust memorial at the capital.



Without Warning (SATB, organ)


A setting of the 14th century English mystic Julian of Norwich’s text “Without Warning” for SATB chorus and organ. The piece was commissioned by Jo-Michael Scheibe for the historic Coral Gables Community Church. After a gentle opening, the piece presents a number of short fugues on the text and is suitable for an Advent anthem.

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I Cannot Dance

A setting of Mechthild of Magdeburg’s, ‘I Cannot Dance’ newly translated by the composer. The piece was written for the Allegro Choirs of Kansas City and premiered at the opening concert of the 2019 National ACDA Convention. The piece combines an exciting organ part with dramatic vocal parts. The dramatic opening eventually turns into a dance between the voices and the accompaniment.


La Blanca Palomica | St. John of the Cross (TTBB)

Commissioned by St. Mark’s School of Texas, Tinsley Silcox, conductor. This piece is available through Colla Voce Music. Here it is sung by the German ensemble VIP.

Deus Noster Refugium (SSAA and piano)

Commissioned by Blake High School, Melinda Doyle, conductor for their performance at the Florida ACDA convention. It is a fast piece for women’s chorus with an exciting keyboard part.

Available from Walton Music

May the Blessing of the Rain Be on You

An easy, singable piece for children’s chorus and piano commissioned by Dr. Averill Summer and the Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus for their 30th Anniversary. The piece is a setting of a traditional Irish blessing. It begins in unison and then presents the main melody as a canon. On the last chord, there is three part harmony.


Pied Beauty (SSA or TTB)

Pied Beauty is for TTBB Chorus and piano. This piece was commissioned by Dr. Gary Packwood for the Louisiana All State Men’s Chorus. It is a setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ famous poem of the same name. A driving rhythmic piano part is contrasted with lyrical and infectious melodies that culminate in an emotional climax of suspensions in the vocal lines.


A Cradle Song (SSA and piano)


Commissioned by David Matthews for the Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus. This piece is available from Walton Music.

Manly Men (TTBB)

Originally written as a joke at the suggestion of a friend, this piece has become an international choral hit.

Available from Walton Music.

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Drop, drop, slow tears (strngs, hrp)

Kurt Knecht’s neo-Baroque setting of the famous Phineas Fletcher text “Drop, drop, slow tears” for SATB chorus and strings/harp or keyboard/vln/cello or keyboard only. You can purchase the full score with parts for the larger versions. The choir only needs the “Keyboard only” version for any of the arrangements.


My Voice is Small (frame drum, rain stick)

A setting of a poem by 11 year old native American poet America Inerio. The poem addresses the protests on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The piece was commissioned by Central Bucks West High School.

“My voice is small Yet, I will be as loud as a drum. I will scream from the mountain high Yet, gentle and delicate as the feather of our people. With peace on my lips and dreams in my heart “You will not take our land apart” Water that is sacred Water that is life Water that purifies For you, we now again battle in strife. I stand with STANDING ROCK Firm, strong, united I soar with STANDING ROCK My spirit and land will not be divided! ! My voice is small Yet, with it I WILL fight Listen to me, hear my courage on my knees with Mother Earth Give us strength to understand how we protect our sacred land.”



I It Am (vln, vla, cl. org)

A setting of the 14th century English mystic Julian of Norwich’s text “It It Am” from her Revelations of Divine Love for chorus, soloists, clarinet, violin, viola, and organ. The work uses the traditional Te Deum Gregorian Chant, the chorus enters and continues developing musical ideas. The piece concludes with a grand fugue.


Az Mohabbat/Through Love (SSAATTBB, djembe)

Commissioned by Ankenny High School. A wild and rhythmic setting of the Rumi poem “Through Love” for double SATB chorus and percussion. The piece is virtuosic in sound with spectacular stero effects. It is much easier to perform because rests allow each vocal part to prepare, and body percussion serves to keep the ensemble in sync.


Go Tell It on the Mountain (SSAATTBB and congas)

A fun arrangement of the classic Christmas spiritual for SATB chorus divisi and conga. Featured on the album Christmas with the Master Chorale and the Empire Brass. 

Available from Walton Music.

Shalom Aleikhem (SSA, cl, pno)

‎שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת‏‏ מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא
‎בּוֹאֲכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא
‎בָּרְכוּנִי לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאָכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא
‎צֵאתְכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאָכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
Come in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
Bless me with peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
May your departure be in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

A setting of the traditional prayer for arriving home on Friday for Shabbat. 

Available from Walton Music.

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Art Song

Ave Maria (sop or mezzo, org.)

reimagining of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria for soprano solo and organ. The original melody is slowed down and the harmonic language is expanded the reflect a contemporary sensibility. The result is a unique combination of the old and the new. The piece is available in A flat for high voice and F major for medium high voice.


Das Stundenbuch (sop/pno)

A setting of selected poems from Rilke’s Das Stundenbuch. The poems are written from the perspective of a medieval monk who is building a cathedral which he will not see completed.


Three Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (sop, pno)

A setting of three poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins for soprano and piano. 



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Ballad of a Vocal Performance Major (mezzo, pno)

A setting of an original text for mezzo soprano in which the singer recounts her journey from telling her parents that she wants to study music, to studying music theory and history, until her final destination as a waitress who can ask, “Do you want fries with that?” in three different languages.


Five Poems by Carl Sandburg (sop, pno)

A setting of five Carl Sandburg poems for soprano and piano. The set focuses on Sandburg’s ability to simultaneously make you laugh and cry.


Gather the Broken Pieces (sop, bar, vln, vc, piano)

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (sop, pno)

A setting of the Wallace Stevens poem “13 ways of looking at a blackbird” for soprano and piano with extended techniques.


Mutability (sop, mezzo, pno)

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Mutability” is partially quoted in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The work was commissioned by Anna DeGraff with a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council with funds from the McKnight Foundation. The work explores dark and crunchy harmonies before erupting in ecstatic outbursts.


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Large Works

with Winds

with String Quartet

with Orchestra

Time and the River (nonet, multimedia)


Commissioned by the Lincoln Chamber Music Society, the music for nonet is accompanied by stunning visual images from the Platte River Basin Timelapse project. Gorgeous imagery combines with compelling music to tell the story of the Platte River.


The Ten Plagues (woodwind octet)


Kurt Knecht’s Ten Plagues for Woodwind Octet. The work takes the 10 plagues described in Hebrew Scripture as inspiration for 10 different color pieces for woodwind octet. The work my also be paired with visual images created by artist Brian McMillan on request. Hear, see, and buy it on MusicSpoke


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Missa Prolationem (sop., SATB chorus, str. quartet, organ)

A setting of the Mass in which each movement explores different aspects of contrapuntal technique while dramatically presenting the mass text. This work won the award for best dissertation at the University of Nebraska amongst all doctoral students in the entire institution in 2009.

A Lesson of Love (monodrama for mezzo, str. quartet, and piano)

A dramatic monodrama for mezzo soprano, string quartet, and piano. The text follows the near death and early visions of the 14th century English mystic Julian of Norwich and concludes with the famous lines, “All shall be well; all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Hear, see, and buy it on MusicSpoke.


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Sivivon/O Chanukah (mezzo sop. and orchestra)

A medley of two classic Chanukah tunes for mezzo and orchestra written for Bonne Kramer and the Imperial Symphony.

Media Vita (Mezzo, Bar, SATB Chorus, Chamber Orch.)

Commissioned by the Lincoln Lutheran choir, Media Vita was written as a companion piece to Rutter’s small orchestration of the Fauré Requiem. It is a setting of text taken from the little hours for the dead in English. Compelling solos are paired with singable choral writing for an emotional commentary on death and loss.

Deck Thyself, my soul, with Gladness (sop, ten, SATB chorus, strings, org.)

A seven movement cantata setting the text of the original Bach cantata on the same hymn. It was commissioned by Lincoln Lutheran Choir and makes many references to classic Baroque compositional techniques.

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kurt knecht