composer

Schreker, Franz


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composition

Der Geburtstag der Infantin : for mandolin, guitar and harp / Franz Schreker; arr. Kees Arntzen

Publisher's number: 16205
Genre: Chamber music
Subgenre: Mixed ensemble (2-12 players)
Instruments: mand gtr hp
Duration: 30'00"
Number of players: 3
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Other authors:
Arntzen, Kees (orchestrator)
Description:
Franz Schreker (1878 - 1934) wrote his dance-suite ‘Der Geburtstag der Infantin’ (The Birthday of the Infanta) in 1908 for the ‘Kunstschau’ in Vienna. It was conceived for a small orchestra and the dance company of Grete and Else Wiesenthal, who practiced the so-called ‘Ausdruckstanz’. As point of departure Schreker took a fairy-tale written by the Irish author Oscar Wilde, who had shocked all of Europe with his tantalizing
‘Salome’ - the very play that Richard Strauss had based a sensual opera upon in1905.
The bedside story that Oscar Wilde improvised for his own young children was inspired by the famous 17th-century painting ‘Las Meninas’ by Diego Velazquez. This painting shows the Infanta radiant with happiness in the centre of the scene and on the left the painter himself, looking the viewer straight in the face. Yet upon closer examination the royal parents are visible in the mirror as well, approvingly looking at their child. In the foreground at the right we notice two dwarves, one of them is of the same height as the Infanta. It was this disfigured character that sparked Oscar Wilde’s fantasy. In his story, the Infanta is older than the 5 year old girl on the painting. For her 12th birthday she receives an unusual gift: a dwarf. Charcoal-burners, captured the completely uncivilized creature in the woods and brought it into the imperial environment of the Escorial as a curiosity.
At first the Infanta is enchanted, she encourages the poor dwarf to dance for her. Once the dancing dwarf depicts for her Spring, Summer and Autumn the Infanta shows her enthusiasm by throwing him a rose. The dwarf brings the rose to his lips and immediately falls in love with the Infanta. Left on his own after the party, the dwarf explores the rooms of the imperial palace and - for the first time - encounters his own image in a mirror. In a flash he understands that the Infanta has only mocked him because of his ugliness. In sheer despair he dies on the spot. The court-physician announces his death was caused by a broken heart. The princess - who now enters the room to see what is going on - reluctantly turns up her nose and proclaims that she would rather receive gifts ‘without a heart’ for her next birthday. Together with her friends she runs off into the garden to continue playing.
So far Oscar Wilde’s tale. The dancing, but especially the incredibly fresh music of Franz Schreker, won the hearts and minds of the Viennese audience. Later on, Schreker re-arranged this material for a large orchestra because in 1923 the conductor Willem Mengelberg invited him to conduct a number of his own compositions in Amsterdam. Schreker asked for four mandolines and two guitars and harps in addition to the orchestra.
The challenge to rearrange this enormous orchestra for a trio of mandolin, guitar and harp had a favourable result. The current arrangement has often been played by the Serenade Trio - sometimes in combination with a narrator to link together the different parts of the tale.
For the realisation of the present edition I wish to thank in the first place guitarist Wim Hoogewerf for his unrelenting support. The fingerings are by Lenie Kerkhoven (mandoline), Erika Waardenburg (harp) and Kees Arntzen (guitar).
Kees Arntzen, November 2017

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Score Download (A4), 50 pages EUR 20.25
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Hardcopy, normal size (A4), 58 pages EUR 44.90