Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra

Roger Sessions

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Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

My Double Concerto was composed mainly in 1970 and 1971; the full score bears in fact the date of completion, July 20, 1971. It would be difficult to tell exactly when it was begun. The idea of writing a concerto for two instruments had attracted me for quite a number of years, partly because of both the possibilities and the challenges which such a work offers the composer. The desire of The Juilliard School for a new work in commemoration of its fiftieth anniversary provided me with a welcome occasion for which to write such a piece. The specific musical ideas on which the Concerto is based had ?as has been the case with nearly all of my larger works ? been accumulating and developing in my imagination for very many months before I began to put them in their final form.

What I had in mind was a work in which the two solo instruments play different and at times contrasting roles, always distinct from that of the orchestra, and frequently combining with each other in an independent ensemble. The different roles are forecast in the two cadenzas ? the first on the violin, the second on the cello, with which the Concerto begins, immediately after two introductory measures in the orchestra; they are also embodied in many dialogue-like episodes in which they, as it were, briefly converse; also in various solo episodes, in which one instrument often plays in support of the other. At other times, of course, the two instruments form a single unit in which neither predominates, although their contrasting roles will, I believe, often be evident here too.

The orchestra I have used is a relatively small one, consisting of two flutes, and piccolo, one oboe and English horn, two clarinets and bass clarinet, one bassoon and contrabassoon; three horns, one trumpet and two trombones; timpani, percussion and piano; and strings consisting of approximately ten violins, eight violas, six cellos and three double basses. The whole consists of three movements: Allegro moderato, ma sempre con fuoco ? Adagio ? Molto allegro, played, however, without pause between the movements. Each movement, moreover, contains sections in which the prevailing tempo is relaxed, while the music takes on a more rhapsodic character. In each movement the ideas presented at the beginning reappear towards the end, always with very considerable variation. the role of the orchestra is preponderantly that of support, butr also that of commentator or, so to speak, master of ceremonies.

In the above notes I have tried simply to offer some descriptive material which may help the listener in hearing the music for the first time. I have avoided matters of technique, which is simply the mans by which the music is put together ? not the music itself. I have also avoided matter of ?expressive intent?? the intent is always there, but the questions can be answered only by the music itself. To mention one other subject which is frequently attempted in program notes, I have also avoided matters of style. for many years I have realized that my music does not fit easily into the familiar categories, and I have never wished that is whoudl do so. I have never been interested in slogans, clich

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1970-71
Duration 00:20:00
Orchestration Vln. Vcl. soli; 3 2 3 2 - 3 1 2 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
Premiere November 5th, 1971. Paul Zukofsky, Violin, John Sessions, Piano. The Juilliard Theater Orchestra, conducted by Leon Barzin.