Prismatic Variations

Donald Erb

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Quick Overview

Prismatic Variations was finished on August 18, 1983, but didn?t have a title until two months later ? October 25, to be precise. Composers are often surprised by the qualities their music presents to the public, but this work will, I think, have a couple of qualities which will be exemplified by the title I have chosen.

One thing I have tried to achieve in this piece is to fill the hall with bright, transparent sound. This is
accomplished by the sounds in the orchestra, but also enhanced by participants in the audience who are called upon to play, separately or in combination, such instruments as harmonicas, soda bottles, and telephone bells.

The other quality which the piece should have has to do with the fact that much of the music is repeated during the course of the work, but is altered by being radically reorchestrated for each successive reappearance. In other words, some of the variations are simply changes in orchestrations and not changes in the shape of the theme? or that of the preceding variation. This gives the work a quality similar in some ways to a rondo as much as a theme and variations.

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1983
Duration 00:15:00
Orchestration 3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Kbd. Hp. Str. and approx. 100 Children in Audience
Premiere January 28th, 1984. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

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