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Comrades was inspired by Milan Kundera’s first novel, The Joke. The music initially set out to depict four characters from The Joke and their distinct personalities, with each movement individually depicting a specific character. As the piece was being composed, it gradually began to distance itself form the novel, and in its final state, exists independently of any association with the novel, instead depicting four unspecified characters from an unwritten story who relate in non-programmatic ways. Regardless of its removed association with Milan Kundera’s novel, the orchestration of Comrades was chosen based on a Moravian folk music ensemble in which the characters within the novel performed. In an effort to remain loyal to its conception, the piece attempts to use European folk influence to generate much of its musical material.