Gianmaria Griglio https://www.gianmariagriglio.it Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio Fri, 21 Jul 2017 08:51:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/cropped-g-32x32.jpg Gianmaria Griglio https://www.gianmariagriglio.it 32 32 What is the purpose of a conductor? https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/purpose-of-orchestra-conductor/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/purpose-of-orchestra-conductor/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 13:13:24 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1632 What is the purpose of a conductor?
Gianmaria Griglio

Any breath a conductor takes, any movement has an impact on the orchestra players and on their sound. This simple concept makes a real different when someone steps on the podium.

What is the purpose of a conductor?
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
What is the purpose of a conductor?
Gianmaria Griglio

What is a conductor supposed to do (and not to do)

 

Well, last month I spent a week teaching at the Bard Conductors Institute. It was absolutely fantastic, as it always is when I go back to that special place. And, as usual, when you teach you learn – a big plus.

What daunted on me during this week – and later on reading some questions on the web – is that a lot of people, some students included, do not have really clear what the purpose of a conductor is. The most common misunderstanding is that a conductor is there to beat time in nice clear patterns, so that the orchestra can understand where they are. Add some dynamics to it and some show-biz gestures and you’re ready to go.

That is simply wrong.

 

Conducting patterns

Patterns are not conducting

 

Patterns do not have anything to do with conducting. Patterns are dry, meaningless exercises which the orchestra – any orchestra – does not need. So, why is it that patterns are the first and sometimes only thing you see when you watch a conductor? It’s the basic, rawest piece of technique you could think of, and yet, it seems to be in very high demand.

Patterns are very easy to replicate and understand, but they defy the purpose of a conductor, transforming him/her in a live metronome: you can even see patterns being endlessly mirrored with two hands. Honestly, do you think that in a Mozart’s symphony for example players will not be able to count to 4?


Do you think that players need a 4/4 pattern for 1/2 hour not to get lost? #conducting #classicalmusic
Click To Tweet


 

The answer is quite obviously no: orchestras today can play almost anything without a conductor. Players do not need a beat, they need a pulse. A pulse is what makes the orchestra start, speed up, slow down. It’s not constricted in a pattern, but it comes out directly from the music. It’s the music that makes the technique. And since every piece of music is different, the shape of a conductor’s movements need to change accordingly.

Which brings us back to our first question. Having established what isn’t the purpose of a conductor (a time beating machine), what’s the other option?

To shape the music.

 

This is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from by teachers: Gilberto Serembe and Harold Farberman.

By the way, if you are a conductor I suggest reading Farberman’s book on conducting technique: it’s simply brilliant. Or even better, follow his course at Bard College and Serembe’s course at the Italian Conducting Academy.

Now, shaping the music can be accomplished in a variety of different ways, but it all starts with two very simple things: sound and breathing: if I, as a conductor, do not have a specific idea in mind of what the sound I want is AND I cannot breathe with the music and the players, nothing will come out, but empty motions. Empty motions generate nothing but empty sounds, with no direction and no shape. Uninspired players will make the performance and the conductor will become a dispensable appendix.

Sound, breathing, gestures, technique: they all come from the same place, the score. Any breath a conductor takes, any movement he/she makes, has an impact on the orchestra players and on their sound. This simple concept makes a real difference when someone steps on the podium.

No shape means no music, no music means no emotions.

No emotions…: then what’s the point of being on the podium?

I’ll leave you with two of the greatest conductors of all times. No patterns. No bs. Just music.

What is the purpose of a conductor?
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/purpose-of-orchestra-conductor/feed/ 5
A mass of life – Frederick Delius and Nietzsche’s masterpiece https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/mass-of-life/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/mass-of-life/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2016 10:44:36 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1599 A mass of life – Frederick Delius and Nietzsche’s masterpiece
Gianmaria Griglio

A Mass of Life is based upon Also sprach Zarathustra, discovered by Delius on a trip to Norway: is a purely humanistic liturgy.

A mass of life – Frederick Delius and Nietzsche’s masterpiece
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
A mass of life – Frederick Delius and Nietzsche’s masterpiece
Gianmaria Griglio

A mass of life – Delius meets Nietzsche

 

Frederick Delius composed A Mass of Life in 1904-05, the same period in which he saw the birth of splendid works like Appalachia or his Piano Concerto. A mass of life is based upon the writings and poetry of his namesake Friedrich Nietzsche, the father of 20th Century philosophy, in which he extols human willpower and wisdom above all things. The texts come from Also sprach Zarathustra, discovered by Delius on a trip to Norway, and for such reason A Mass of Life is a purely humanistic liturgy; one in which mankind’s joyful thoughts and actions have replaced a heavenly Paradise.

It would even be possible to consider all ‘Zarathustra’ as a musical composition

wrote Friedrich Nietzsche himself. No composer was more receptive to Nietzsche’s analogies than Frederick Delius.

The suggestive force of the first reaction to some gorgeous parts of Zarathustra – The Midnight-Song given at the Delius concert in London in 1899 and later to become the pivot of A Mass of Life – is compelling to the point that the shaping of the work in its present dimensions can now be seen to have been unavoidable. As mentioned, Zarathustra was discovered by Delius in Norway. In the words of Eric Fenby, a close friend of Delius: “When, one wet day . . . he was looking for something to read in the library of a Norwegian friend with whom he was staying during a walking tour, and had taken down a book, Thus Spake Zarathustra . . . he was ripe for it. It was the very book he had been seeking all along.”
Jelka Rosen and Frederick Delius in 1929
Son of a German merchant who became British, Delius spent most of his life outside the United Kingdom, travelling to America, Germany and France. Health problems caused him to lose his sight and put him in a wheelchair. He was forced to get help from his friends to transcribe his works: Eric Fenby, first and foremost, but also composer Peter Warlock.

Delius is commonly defined as an impressionist composer, in light of the innovations introduced by composers such as Claude Debussy after passing the romantic and late romantic model; his work, substantially meditative and introverted, melancholic and evocative, naturally inclined to a non-trivial form of musical descriptive style, is influenced by Edvard Grieg, who was a friend of Delius.

The discovery of the work of Delius is mainly due to the great conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, who in 1907, during a London visit by Delius, was impressed by his music, and soon after recorded and played great part of his production, bringing it to public attention.

Beecham himself conducted the full premiere of A Mass of Life in London, in 1909. Listen to Beecham talking about this work in a radio interview.
Written for a massive ensemble – Soprano, Contralto, Tenor and Baritone Soloists, Double Chorus and Orchestra: 3 flutes with piccolo, 3 oboes, English horn, bass oboe; 3 clarinets, bass clarinet; 3 bassoons, double bassoon; 6 horns; 4 trumpets; 3 tenor trombones; bass tuba; 2 harps; percussion and strings – A Mass of Life is constituted by two blocks of respectively 5 and 6 sections.

A mass of life – Part 1

  1. INVOCATION

    A passionate choral address to the Will, Zarathustra’s ruling compulsion in life, opens the work. He pleads that he may transcend in his soul all the pettiness of life, so that in his prime he may face whatever his inmost Will may demand. The music is driven by tremendous purposefulness: a gathering and holding of massive strength and determination – with brief relaxing moments – hints, at times, to Wagner’s heritage, both in rhythm and weight

  2. THE SONG OF LAUGHTER

    Zarathustra encourages, with a short baritone recitative, all higher men to honor and venerate laughter and dance. The orchestra take on an almost grotesque color as Zarathustra’s sacred laughter is depicted by triple brass coupled with woodwinds

  3. THE SONG OF LIFE

    Man is lover, Life his loved one. It’s tough to get more humanistic than this. Tenor, soprano and contralto soloists comment on Man and Life while Life dances enticingly before Zarathustra. An almost ethereal descant of women voices counterpoints the scene, but soon the pace is changed and the chorus joins in in a fugue-like moment. Zarathustra is ecstatic, but the joyful mood is soon interrupted by a moving contralto solo, as Life doubts Zarathustra’s faithfulness. An old bell rings and the basses intone The Midnight-Song: “O Man, mark well, what tolls the solemn midnight bell”- Life and Zarathustra look on each other, overwhelmed by emotion: Life was never so dear to Zarathustra. The music seals the scene with a fading chord.

  4. THE RIDDLE

    Peace does not last long in Man’s heart: Zarathustra appears to be moving to a darker place, filled with doubts. The music describes a mood on the verge of desperation, with questioning figuration, the choir reinforcing Zarathustra’s heart-searching. The anxious Man is finally calmed down with a single transition from B minor to F major.

  5. THE NIGHT SONG

    The point of origin and the pivotal momentum of the Mass of Life, this hymn-like piece flows in a slow pace of wide phrases sustained by chords. The orchestration is magical and evocative of a mysterious night, holding at its core the mystery of life. Delius outperforms himself, playing with diatonic and chromatic elements, crafting carefully the disposition of the instruments and using choral choral interjections to heighten tension, building a magnificent arc that logically moves through peak and falls, to end where it began.

A mass of life – Part 2

  1. ON THE MOUNTAINS

    Zarathustra is alone with his thoughts in the stillness of high Mountains; horn calls echo over the distant valleys. The quietude is interrupted by a great surge of sound, unleashed in praise of Man’s ‘Noon-tide’. Quieter passages in which soprano, contralto and tenor soloists add a brief trio on the sorrows of their ‘Spring-tide’, now left behind, lead to a return of the ‘Noon-tide’ music, which culminates in a call to all artists: “Wax hard!”

  2. THE SONG OF THE LYRE

    One of the most enigmatic passages of the entire Mass of Life. The emotional involvement and the peculiar flair that pervade this song will become a dominant component of Delius’s later compositions. The feeling of the coda recurs in Brigg Fair, In a Summer Garden, An Arabesk, the violin, cello and double concertos. Zarathustra sees joyful meaning in life – for Joy longs to Recur!

  3. THE DANCE SONG

    It is evening. Zarathustra is wandering in the forest. The dance is represented by a joyful bunch of young girls, dancing together in a meadow, in a ring of trees and bushes. Swaying rhythms pervade the song, overlapping layers adding charming intricacies in a swirl of laughter and delightfulness. The girls at first scatter when they see Zarathustra, but then, reassured, they return dancing only to tire soon and leave Zarathustra in a dream-like state in the cool dusk. Women’s voices fade in and out from the woods, increasing the melancholic mood, while night falls and all that’s left is a memory of the dance in the muted strings.

  4. AT NOON IN THE MEADOWS

    Pastoral scene: Zarathustra, now come of age at the noon-tide of life, relishes solitude and is rapt in his happiness. Shepherds’ pipes – an elegant combination of oboe, English horn and bass oboe – gently lull Zarathustra, who’s dozing off under a gnarled tree. Chorus and tenor soloist quietly comment on the scene. Zarathustra stirs, and soloists, chorus and orchestra stretch their limbs joyously. Bemused, Zarathustra refuses to be roused. The myriad voices of Eternity seem to live again in the suspended pianissimo chords of the choir’s “Oh bliss! Oh bliss! Oh bliss!” Zarathustra knows complete content.

  5. THE SONG OF RAPTURE

    Zarathustra, now in the eventide of life, reflects on the past and the indifference of men. The mood is more reflective, almost giving in into regret-fullness. The piece is filled with references to previous sections: one from No. 4 in cellos and basses, followed by horns and bassoons at the mention of Midnight (“Oh, how she sighs!”); another, the horn motive from the climax in No. 5 recurs in full brass fortissimo, serving as preparation to the crowning choral unison: “Joy is deeper still than heart-felt grief!”. A drum roll leads right into the final movement.

  6. THE PAEAN TO JOY

    The drum roll ushers in Zarathustra’s motive (quoted from the introduction to the Dance-Song, Part Two No. 3), heard, again, in the string basses. The inevitable approach of the hour is rendered with dark orchestration and bell-like octaves of the harps. Zarathustra calls his men friends, revealing what discovery Midnight has brought to him. They join in by snatches, then take up the song filling the night with this descant to Joy. Soloists, double chorus and orchestra all join in to epically end this most singular of all Masses, in an overwhelming feeling of grandiosity and universal joy.

A mass of life – Frederick Delius and Nietzsche’s masterpiece
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/mass-of-life/feed/ 8
The Tempest – Shakespeare and Johnson https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/tempest-shakespeare-johnson/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/tempest-shakespeare-johnson/#comments Thu, 25 Feb 2016 09:55:22 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1584 The Tempest – Shakespeare and Johnson
Gianmaria Griglio

The Tempest saw a strict collaboration between Shakespeare and musician Robert Johnson which gave birth to something unique, getting very close to Opera

The Tempest – Shakespeare and Johnson
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
The Tempest – Shakespeare and Johnson
Gianmaria Griglio

The Tempest – William Shakespeare and Robert Johnson

As we all know, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. After four centuries Shakespeare still remains at the top of the list as the most loved, copied, performed, stolen from writer in history. The New Grove Dictionary of Opera lists some 400 stage-works (operas for the most part) based on plays by Shakespeare. The Shakespeare-idolatry began in 1769, with a Stratford-upon-Avon becoming a place of pilgrimage: everyone who was someone, traveled to that small market town that had given birth to a genius, happy to dance around in the muddy streets with their courtly shoes. Music was part of the service, with composer Thomas Arne. Arne was not however the first one to toy with Shakespeare’s works: there seems to be evidence of a quite strict collaboration between the Bard and court composer Robert Johnson, on at least one of Shakespeare’s most famous works: The Tempest.

Music was a family tradition for Robert Johnson, his father having been a lutenist to Elizabeth I. After his father’s death, Robert became, in 1596, an apprentice to George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, and his wife Elizabeth Spencer, patrons of the famous lutenist and composer John Dowland.
Carey was a great art supporter and, among other things, a patron of the theater company to which William Shakespeare belonged, known as the “Baron Hunsdon’s Men” first, then as the “Lord Chamberlain’s Men” and finally as the “King’s men”. His compositions connected to the King’s men theater have been dated to the years 1610-1617, which means he worked with Shakespeare on his latest works, including the Tempest. What’s fascinating here, is the fact that we are assisting to the birth of opera barely a decade after the “official” birth of opera in Italy: a combination of theater and music to reach the zenith of drama. Now, there is no direct evidence of it, and the idea that the entire play was conceived only to be sung is far fetched. It was by no means a libretto. However, there are at least two songs that Johnson wrote for the play – “Where the bee sucks” and “Full fathom five” – as well as stage directions (either written by Shakespeare or by someone who had seen the show in its early performances) indicating that the music had a special role within the work. Musicians where hidden by a silk curtain: silk was effectively hiding the musicians, while offering very little obstruction to those strains of magic melodies. In The Tempest They played all the incidental “solemn and strange music”, “marvelous sweet music”, “heavenly music”. But they also accompanied the lyrics of Ariel’s songs.

That Shakespeare loved music is quite a known fact. That he held it into high consideration can be assumed by his writings. For example:

The man that bath no music in himself

Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds

Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils,

The motions of his spirit are dull as night

And his affections dark as Erebus.[1]

Maybe The tempest was written with music in mind as intermezzo or maybe it was more like a film soundtrack, with music playing a fundamental character in the plot. An absolutely modern way of conceiving the theater. But, after all, what’s not modern even to this day when it comes to Shakespeare?
The tempest has frequently been described as Shakespeare’s most lyrical play. It comes to no surprise that it inspired famous composers like Tchaikowsky (with his symphonic fantasia) or Sibelius (with his incidental music for the Copenaghen Theater). More recently, it was also turned into an opera by english composer Thomas Ades. No matter the era in which one lives, it seems like Shakespeare is an endless source of inspiration for composers and artists in general, from Purcell to Verdi, Bernstein and Elvis Costello.

An immortal mirror on our loves, our flaws, our hopes.

Notes:

 

[1] – The Merchant of Venice (V, I, 83-85)

Resources: Cambridge Digital Library: http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/music

Internet Shakespeare Edition: http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/

The Tempest: Critical Essays by Patrick M. Murphy: excerpts from the book

Cover photo by nrg_crisis | Flickr

If you’re interested in the film version of The Tempest and in a summary of the play and its characters, take a look at this:

The Tempest – Shakespeare and Johnson
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/tempest-shakespeare-johnson/feed/ 2
432Hz https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/432hz/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/432hz/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:56:51 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1548 432Hz
Gianmaria Griglio

432Hz tuning has been abandoned some 60 years ago. But why has 440Hz been favored?

432Hz
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
432Hz
Gianmaria Griglio

432Hz – The eternal debate

For a few years now we’ve assisted to a debate on the “correct” frequency to be used in tuning. Historical facts seem to be pretty shady on the subject but here’s what I have found doing some research. The 432Hz frequency comes from a natural resonance with the base frequencies of both the universe and our organism. Music played at 432Hz has a warmer tone and propagates in the body giving a sense of peace and energy.

432Hz resonates with the frequency of 8Hz: in a scale where the A is at 440Hz, the C is at 261Hz; but if we take the 8Hz and move five octaves up we reach a C at 256Hz, which consequently makes the A at 432Hz. Following the principles of harmonics by which any produced sound automatically resonates all the other multiples of that frequency, higher and lower, a C at 256 Hz propagates vibrations to all the C in other octaves, making the 8hz frequency naturally resonate.

 

Why is 8hz important?

 

8 HZ is common to quite a few things around us:

  • 8Hz is the pulse of planet earth, aka “Schumann resonance” [1];
  • 8 Hz is the working frequency of the DMT molecule, a substance produced by our pineal gland;
  • 8 Hz is the replication frequency of human DNA;
  • 8 Hz is the working rhythm of the alpha waves of our brain to which the two hemispheres of our brain work together.

 

Plenty of researchers, scientists and musicians experimented with different frequencies, A=432Hz being of course one of them. This tuning has allegedly been used for ages, since the ancient Greek and Egyptians: to my knowledge though, there is no historical evidence of it. Before the 20th century a whole lot of ranges where used between 360Hz and 460Hz. It is assumed that 432Hz was the most commonly used. The concert pitch was changed to the 440Hz only in 1953, in London, though other attempts to change to a higher tuning were made way before that.

Fact of the matter is that the first pitch fork was invented in 1711, which means that before that people were tuning by ear to whatever A was there. I can imagine, for instance, that a portative organ wouldn’t exactly be able to hold the same exact frequency all the time. Thus, a violin tuning to it would tune higher or lower.

Let’s go back a bit and look at some dates. Click on the infographic on the right to enlarge it. One in particular, the 1939 London conference, has caught everyone’s attention because the biggest fan of the 440 tuning was no other than Joseph Goebbels. Now, the question is:

 

why one of the highest ranking Nazi officers would be bothered with such matters on the verge of WWII?

Between the two world wars quite a few researches were financed to study the positive or negative influence of different frequencies on humans. The pioneers of such researches in the USA were the Muzak Corporation (with researchers Burris and Meyer) and the Princeton Radio (which by the way involved also Albert Einstein in it) at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). It turned out that the 440 frequency had more than a negative impact, but, generally, people subjected to these frequencies were more aggressive and belligerent. So here’s the answer:

 

why not turn this into an advantage to train more aggressive soldiers?

It could be quite convenient when one’s about to go to war. All in all, it can be explained quite easily: as Dr. Masaru Emoto demonstrated, words and sounds have the power to change the structure of water: when exposed to positive words, water answers with beautiful and organized crystals, while it appears deformed when exposed to negative words.

Given the fact that the human body is 70% water, it’s safe to assume that we can be conditioned by what we hear at a certain frequency. Maria Renold in her research conducted quite a few experiments with live concerts: people were listening to the same concert played at 440Hz and then at 432Hz; with the former, individuals revealed polemical and antisocial behaviors, where with the latter they were positive and even enthusiastic.

So, where does this leave us?

It’s not quite clear why 440Hz has been favored. Conspiracy theories aside, I think one question can be asked: if 432Hz is, in fact, a better option, what’s preventing us from going back to it or at least try it out on a larger scale?

I’m quite sure that, if anything else, more than one singer would rejoice for it…

If you’re curious to hear the difference here’s an app that will play your music at 432Hz.

Resources and links:

“The Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music” by Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz
The ‘Back to 432 Hz’ committee
ISO 16:1975
Timeline used in the infographic – Special thanks to Roel Hollander for his comments and data
“Intervals, scales, tones and the concert pitch C=128hz” by Maria Renold

Note:

[1] the Schuman resonance is not exactly set at 8Hz: the fundamental can sometimes be at 8Hz, but also higher and lower, like 7.3Hz or 8.4Hz for example. It is generally said to be on an average of 7.8Hz; 8Hz is a common roundup

432Hz
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/432hz/feed/ 5
Henri Dutilleux https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/henri-dutilleux/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/henri-dutilleux/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2016 11:23:01 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1493 Henri Dutilleux
Gianmaria Griglio

The proptotype of the anti-avant-garde, Dutilleux draws from the French tradition of Debussy and Ravel to build his personal language

Henri Dutilleux
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
Henri Dutilleux
Gianmaria Griglio

Henri Dutilleux – Between worlds

Diving into contemporary music, Henri Dutilleux is one of those figures that attract the most, not just for the quality of his music, but for his relentless aversion to compromise it. Dutilleux grew up with the avant-garde as the only accepted way to compose, and yet he refused to bow to it. His long life rejection for Boulez’s dogmas, especially the necessity of serialism, is common knowledge. That way of composing never coped with his sensibility as a musician. In his own words:

I don’t speak about him, and he doesn’t speak about me. I admire his work for the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He has made his choices and he has the right to make his choices. But there are things I cannot accept, and I don’t like people who are never in doubt.

Dutilleux’s approach was by far the most anti-ideological of his generation: where most composers would fall into the classical refusal of the past and the “tabula rasa” way, he refused to be contained into the strict rules of this school of composition, despite his decades of teaching at the Paris Conservatoire.
Henri Dutilleux

His music breathes of French tradition, from Debussy to Ravel to Stravinsky with the addition of some Bartok. He drew inspiration from all form of arts: Timbres, espaces, mouvements is based on Van Gogh‘s immortal Starry Night; the Shadows of Time is a gloomy meditation on loss, written for the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII and catalysed by the discovery of the deportation by the Nazis to concentration camps of an entire orphanage of Jewish children in Anne Frank’s diary.

The piece itself is dedicated to Anne Frank “and all the children, innocents of the world”.

Incidentally, this dedication reminds me of Shostakovich string quartet op.110, dedicated “to the victims of fascism and war”.

 

Anne Frank

The heart of the score is a movement called “Memory of shadows” that includes music for three children’s voices: Dutilleux recounts a stroke of inspiration when he was searching for a “special color in the instrumentation” to contrast with the brass and wind timbres dominating the beginning and heard “some voices coming from a nursery school close to my studio.” The effect is shocking.

A stickler for details and revisions (something in common with Boulez), Dutilleux only cared about his world, completely independent from the mainstream, extremely refined in his orchestration, true to his heart and art.

Happy 100th anniversary!

 

Alex Ross has something to say about him here while for a list of events head to the Dutilleaux 2016 website.

Here are a few links to some of my favorites compositions of his:

The shadows of time

Timbres, espaces, mouvements

Tout un monde lontain – this cello concerto was commissioned and premiered by Rostropovich

Henry Dutilleux photo credit: photo by Brianthebrain2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Anne Frank photo credit: photo by Unknown photographer; Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam (Website Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cover photo by Trinita’ | Flickr

Henri Dutilleux
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/henri-dutilleux/feed/ 0
ARTax – music rEvolution https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/artax-music-revolution/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/artax-music-revolution/#respond Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:16:01 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1481 ARTax – music rEvolution
Gianmaria Griglio

After almost 3 years, ARTax, a new company based in The Hague, NL, has finally become a reality

ARTax – music rEvolution
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
ARTax – music rEvolution
Gianmaria Griglio

2016 – ARTax is born

It took some time. Depending on the point of view, it took a lot of time.

Everything goes back to 2013 during the premiere of my first opera, “Camille Claudel”. We held auditions for the leading roles and hired the  person who would then turn into my partner, both in work and in life, the amazing soprano Violetta Lazin.

After the premiere, Violetta suggested to produce the opera in the Netherlands. Naturally, I jumped at the idea! She started to put things in motions and from the idea of a single project the whole thing matured into a brand  new company.

So here we are, after hundreds of hours of discussions, meetings and coffees (and many more hours to come), ARTax is officially a reality. We set out a five years plan and big goals. It is, as Violetta put it, in every way a reflection of its creators: energetic, creative and, most of all,  passionate.

My gratitude goes to Violetta first and foremost for embarking in this journey and, naturally, to all the people that believed in us and made this first big step possible.

I invite you all to follow us in the next years and to share your thoughts. I can promise you an unforgettable and unique experience!

Here’s our website: www.artaxmusic.com

 

ARTax – music rEvolution
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/artax-music-revolution/feed/ 0
Siete canciones populares españolas https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/siete-canciones-populares-espanolas/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/siete-canciones-populares-espanolas/#respond Tue, 19 Jan 2016 13:42:42 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1461 Siete canciones populares españolas
Gianmaria Griglio

Siete canciones populares españolas, by Manuel de Falla, is one of the most popular cycles of folk-songs in music history. Originally written for piano and voice, there are transcriptions for voice and guitar, cello and piano and two versions for orchestra.

Siete canciones populares españolas
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
Siete canciones populares españolas
Gianmaria Griglio

Siete canciones populares españolas

Siete canciones populares españolas (“Seven Spanish Folksongs”) is a cycle of traditional Spanish songs. Filtered and re-arranged for soprano and piano by Manuel de Falla in 1914, it quickly became one of the most popular set of Spanish songs. Originally dedicated to Madame Ida Godebska, who hosted regular gatherings for Parisian artists (like the Mallarmé tuesdays) and arranged for the first edition of the songs, the cycle is one of the most transcribed in music history since the times of Bach: there are arrangements for solo piano, voice and guitar, piano and cello and two versions for orchestra.

Each of the following link leads to a more detailed post:

De Falla himself wrote: “In all honesty, I think that in popular song, the spirit is more important than the letter. The essential features of these songs are rhythm, tonality, and melodic intervals. The people themselves prove this by their infinite variations on the purely melodic lines of the songs.”

The songs derive from different regions of Spain, maintaining their original character and appeal without ever falling into cliché. All of them deal with love and everything that comes with it, joyful or painful. As it usually happens with great composers, De Falla added his own twist to the original songs, thus making them more interesting.

Siete canciones populares españolas
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/siete-canciones-populares-espanolas/feed/ 0
Polo https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/polo/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/polo/#respond Tue, 19 Jan 2016 10:59:54 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1447 Polo
Gianmaria Griglio

Heart breaking and passionate to the bones, Polo concludes the cycle of the "Siete canciones populares españolas" with a lover screaming its head off.

Polo
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
Polo
Gianmaria Griglio

Polo

Last song of the cycle, Polo has its roots in Andalusia: its brisk and lively accompaniment in repeated notes are a direct reminder of the zapateado, a Spanish dance rich in Flamenco rhythms and foot stomping.

A passionate song, the continuous repetition of rhythmic patterns in the piano part unifies the entire piece while the melody plays on the word ‘Ay’. This word is, in fact, a harsh cry which mixed with the gipsy melismas of the singing line and the guitar-like accompaniment, makes ‘Polo’ quite unique right from the start.

The structure is A-A1-Coda. The piano short four-bars introduction introduces a rhythmic element that permeates the entire piece

Right at the entrance of the singer, the first cell of this element is repeated in a way that breaks the natural stress of the ⅜, while the voice cries out the previously mentioned ‘Ay’

Besides creating a clear sense of anxiety, this is also a reminiscence of the golpe guitar technique, a finger tap typical of flamenco.

The piano retakes the lead, reaffirming the rhythmic idea for a few bars and then the accompaniment is quickened by the use of triplets.

The melody, unlike the other songs, is not repeated, but changed from one section to another, though it is, naturally, built around the same material. Its length is also irregular, keeping away from patterns, both inside the phrase and between the sections.

De Falla works by reduction of the material: the first 6 bars are shortened to 4, then 3 and 2; then 1 bar mirroring the next one in retrograde and then the conclusion of the phrase which stretches the 32nd into 16th and lands on the E

Polo ex.3

In the second section the melody is worked out differently: the first 4 bars are repeated with the same structure, changing pitch and (slightly) the rhythm; the next 2 bars are repeated one step higher and then a melisma brings us back to the F (like in the first section) and finally to the E. The melisma in triplet serves as coda, one octave higher.

The melody, the melismas at the end of each phrase or semi-phrase, the final melisma in the coda, they are all wrenching expressions of a broken heart that cannot find liberation except through screaming its head off.

Here’s the link to Conchita Supervia’s interpretation.

Polo
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/polo/feed/ 0
Canción https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/cancion/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/cancion/#respond Wed, 13 Jan 2016 15:42:23 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1429 Canción
Gianmaria Griglio

Second to last of the cycle "Canción" is apparently cheerful, but an underlying anger accompanies the whole piece.

Canción
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
Canción
Gianmaria Griglio

Canción

“Canción” literally means ‘song’. Of the “Siete canciones populares españolas” this is the only one that does not come from a particular region of Spain, but is based on a melody largely known throughout the State. It’s, once again, about love, lost and betrayed. The focus is on the betrayed lover, and on his regained strength once he decides to finally bury his feelings. Reading through the lines though, we learn the bitterness that is left in him when he throws a curse at the person who left him.

Very shortly set in a A-A1 structure, with only a couple of bars of piano solo in between, the piece is built on one fragment

This very same idea is repeated with small variations and around the middle part of each section serves as a pattern for a canon between the singer and the piano

While the singing line is built on short and syncopated notes, giving it a playful character, the piano accompaniment unifies the piece with a guitar-like arpeggio on pedals of tonic and both primary and secondary dominant.

The piece remains in G major throughout, but even with its uplifting key and rhythm there’s a sort of anger pervading it, which only fades away at the very end, when the feelings of the lover are buried in the lowest G of the keyboard.

Here’s this Canción sung, as usual, by Conchita Supervia.

Canción
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/cancion/feed/ 0
From Pickwick to picnic https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/from-pickwick-to-picnic/ https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/from-pickwick-to-picnic/#respond Tue, 12 Jan 2016 08:34:32 +0000 http://www.gianmariagriglio.it/?p=1413 From Pickwick to picnic
Gianmaria Griglio

Pickwick was a great program from RAI TV. Last December the same RAI TV humiliated the RAI Orchestra in an unprecedented way.

From Pickwick to picnic
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
From Pickwick to picnic
Gianmaria Griglio

The art of losing ground

Once upon a time, not that long ago, you could catch quite a few cultural programs on Italian national TV (the RAI). One of my all times favorites was Pickwick, a program dedicated to literature (contemporary and non) hosted by the brilliant Italian writer Alessandro Baricco. Baricco himself has always been very close to classical music – see his essay “L’anima di Hegel e le mucche del Wisconsin”, a witty analysis of the avant-garde period among other things – and more often than not the program had a special guest sitting at the piano: Roberto Cognazzo.

To many of you this name probably means nothing. I had the good fortune of playing a concert with him many years ago and have rarely met anybody after with such a deep knowledge of music. And I don’t mean academical knowledge or good memory of historical facts. I mean in depth understandings of the mechanics of composition related to each composer.

This quality, coupled with his extraordinary improvisational abilities, let him do pretty much whatever he wanted to on the keyboard. Starting from nowhere, you could hear him paraphrase Tchaikowsky’s fourth symphony as a galop, bridge to Beethoven’s ninth symphony and land on La Boheme.

Times change. RAI TV made use of the RAI Orchestra (or Italian National Orchestra) to play for a Bocelli show at the beginning of last December: but not for real. They actually used a playback track. From a different orchestra (the London Symphony). RAI TV also moved some players around – apparently some of them in the first violins section were not telegenic enough. You can read the full article here (sorry but it’s only in Italian).

Now, the RAI Orchestra is one of the finest institutions in the music world, it’s a government financed organization which gets humiliated by another government financed organization, where, apparently, knowing the difference between a professional orchestra and dilettantes is overrated.

I wish I could have started 2016 with a happier post, but these things just make my blood boil.

From Pickwick to picnic
More interesting articles are waiting for you at Gianmaria Griglio.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gianmaria Griglio - Website of conductor and composer Gianmaria Griglio

]]>
https://www.gianmariagriglio.it/from-pickwick-to-picnic/feed/ 0