Creating a musical dialogue between the past and the present, the concert repertoire mixes both old and new composers.
Scheduled for 2020 to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Yale College of Music Vice President Melvin Chen’s two-year-delayed solo piano program finally took place Wednesday night at Morse Recital Hall. rice field.
Part of the Horowitz Piano Series, the concert repertoire focused on the Diabelli Variations. It features both old and new works that draw inspiration from Beethoven’s 1819 “Vaterländischer Künstlerverein”, a waltz interpretation written by Austrian composer Anton Diabelli. The first half of the program consisted of alternate performances of works by Yale and non-Yale composers, while the second half of the program was dedicated to Beethoven’s Diabelli 33 Variations. According to Chen, the format was a deliberate decision.
“For me, classical music is not like an object in a museum where time has stood still,” Chen told News. “These new composers don’t compose in a vacuum. are aware, consciously or unconsciously, of old music: new compositions, new music, additions to the repertoire continue traditions that have occurred over the centuries, and thus are in a sense classical music. is being preserved.”
Professor Aaron Jay Karnis, a member of Yale College of Music’s composition department and composer for one of the variations played Wednesday, emphasized that the concert is related to Diabelli’s original project. After composing the initial theme, Diabelli sent the work to contemporary musicians, asking them to create different interpretations and variations of the original.
“What I love about this project is that Professor Chen went one step further,” Kelis said. “The first inspiration that Diabelli had to write for his contemporaries… reflects the spirit of past projects, and invites many of the very young composers of our time to add So we take it further and make it an even bigger project: 19th century, but also reflective of our time.”
In addition to older Diabelli variations, the concert repertoire includes four Yale College of Music alumni: Timo Andrés YC ’07, MUS ’09, Christ Ozneeks MUS ’16, ’22, Lori Leitman YC’ 75, MUS ’76 and Liliya Ugay MUS ’16, ’22.
New composers utilized different styles and methods to create variations. Ugay stated that in her compositions she wanted to incorporate recognizable aspects similar to her original Diabelli themes, meant to preserve the musical essence and character of her work.
“It is both challenging and fascinating to deal with a theme that is so traditional and even common in its structure and harmony. What can be done to highlight the character of the original theme? [the variation] Can you still recognize it in your creation? Ougei said. “All I have left is a sense of humor and a hint of ‘waltz. The original theme was a waltz, and my version is the use of his motifs to pick up the rest and begin the theme that became the seed. The musical material has grown.
Professor Aaron Jay Karnis deliberately sought a unique approach to composing Diabelli’s variations, deviating from “a highly researched view of the song.” Instead, Kernis’ composition “Give Us Two Beautiful Bells” was inspired by translating and misinterpreting the fragment named “Diabelli” to create different meanings.
“I took the name Diabelli apart and imagined, ‘What if I misread the name and used Google Translate to split the word?'” Karnis said. “It turns out that ‘Dia’ means ‘to give’ and ‘Beri’ means ‘beautiful.’ Then he misspelled Dia to Due with a two and said, ‘Okay, let’s add a little English to the bell… I thought. Then I integrated some small snippets of Diabelli’s original songs. ”
It has been two years since Chen first contacted the composer and commissioned the piece. For Kernis, this delay not only added to his excitement for the premiere, but also created a sense of distance from his work.A sentiment that Kernis feels is shared by other composers.
“For me and many of my colleagues, one of the unusual things about this pandemic is that we had a lot of projects that were postponed and we had to wait years before we heard what we had written during that time.” Kernis said, “As that time passes and composers continue to write other works, they leave what they have just done in the background without knowing what will happen.” It makes me feel a sense of distance.In 2020, we were different people.”
Chen agreed that even composers and musicians can change significantly over the course of two years, but Diabelli’s variations are “great works” because of their multiple and ever-changing approaches to the same piece. said it was.
“It’s a great piece because it has depth. Even if I come back many times, there’s still something to explore…I can go back to the piece and practice something new about it,” Chen said. “The process of practicing songs and knowing songs never ends.”
The remainder of the 2022-2023 Horowitz Piano Series will feature solo performances by YSM faculty pianists Wei-Yi Yang and Dean Robert Blocker, as well as internationally renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman.