String Quartet no. 2 in c Minor Op. 13, Mvt. 3, Valse

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
7 minutes
Modern classical music
String quartet
Instrumental parts
Not available

Movement 3 � Valse This theme and three variations is a folk dance which comes as a lighter relief to the preceding movement; an opportunity to rebuild. The theme uses a simple harmonic sequence of Viennese flavor, yet with sinister mockery lurking beneath. It is the ballroom of the macabre. The first variation includes some contemporary takes on baroque elements, beginning with the theme in a broken-down imitation and climaxing with an extended unison passage in the flavor of the beginning of the first movement. The next variation is highly chromatic and threatens to spin outside the bounds of the piece, which it does, lifting off into a diversion which ties this movement to the finale. The form of the variation comes back into focus, with chromaticism giving way to modal harmonies. The final variation is a more ornate and celebratory incarnation of the first, ending in a coda.

Somewhere during the completion of this movement, I began to draw inspiration from Phillip Evergood�s 1934 painting, �Dance Marathon.� The painting depicts a real historical phase in depression-era America when poor couples entered grueling dance competitions; literally dancing themselves to exhaustion in a desperate attempt to compete for cash prizes.

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