"...a dance record playing of Old Vienna" (for chamber orchestra)

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"...a dance record playing of Old Vienna" (for chamber orchestra)


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Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
12 minutes
Modern classical music
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  • "…a dance record playing of Old Vienna" - a fragment from poet Louis MacNiece's ironic, off key parody "Bagpipe Music" - led me to naively ask myself just what might "a dance record playing of Old Vienna" be playing? Well, with such a variety of music to choose from I thought this "dance record" would be playing music from fin d'siecle Vienna - the end of the 19th C. through the beginning of the 20th C.

The music is all original or as original as I can make it and there are no intentional quotes from existing music. My melodies and fragments of melodies come and go continually - introducing themselves at first in identifiable contexts and later returning in rather unexpected contexts. Perhaps, during the performance you will recognize the "Es war einmal" (once upon a time) introduction, then a soft Schatten Waltz, tiny Tyrolean yodel, a Landler, lots of Viennese expressionism, a 9/8 waltz, a snatch of string quartet and at the end a tear-in-the-eye endlosse Melodie played by an off-stage flugelhorn. All this, hopefully, comes fancifully together to suggest a little childhood Marchen of turn of the century Alt Wien.

  • "Annie MacDougal went to milk, caught her foot in the heather, Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna." (from Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNiece, Random House 1937)

NB mm. 97-131 revised w/mp3 insert. Pardon the rough splice!

The commission and premier performance of "…a dance record playing of Old Vienna" was partially subsidized by a grant from the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University. First performance Hadyn Chamber Orchestra of London, 1995 JAG 1994

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