The drama is constructed like a series of concentric circles. As the man’s memories emerge, one leads inexorable to the next. In a sort of maniacal ritual he follows one thought after another, which brings him closer and closer to the central memory that haunts him — and gives the work its title. (One characteristic of trauma victims is the constant urge to relive the experience).
The relationship between music, text, and action is one of psychological levels. The manifest stage actions is supported by text operating on a deeper level, full of associations and traumatic memories, while the music mirrors yet a deeper level, one beyond the possibility of verbal expression.
The musical allusions in Through Roses at relevant points in the drama include fragments of military marches and popular songs, as well as Haydn (the slow movement from the “Emperor” Quartet, the melody of “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”), Beethoven, Paganini, Wagner, Berg, Mozart, Schubert and Bach. When the protagonist recalls being forced to play Bach for the commandant of the camp, we hear this recollection as music: the violinist in the ensemble plays the opening of the Bach G minor Sonata. But it is a distorted form of the music he plays, reflecting the distortion of the event in the man’s memory.
The Power of the 'Roses' - Los Angeles Times 8/17/1997