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Hymne du Grand Meaulnes : for orchestra, (1951) / Rudolf Escher

Publisher: Amsterdam: Donemus, 1983
Publisher's number: 03651
Genre: Orchestra
Subgenre: Orchestra
Scoring: pic 2fl fl(pic) 2ob ob(ob-am) eh 3cl cl-b sax-a 4h 4trp 3trb tb timp 2perc cel 2hp str(
Remarks: Op. 19. - In opdracht van de Johan Wagenaarstichting. - Opgedragen aan Willem van Otterloo en het Residentie Orkest. - Cop. 1959. - Jaar van comp.: 1951. - Tijdsduur: ca. 19'
Duration: 19'00"
Year of composition: 1951
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Other authors:
Escher, Rudolf (Composer)
Program note (English): [Première: 06-02-1952 - Residentie Orkest, Willem van Otterloo, conducting] - Although the title alludes to the book by Alain Fournier, the work has no literary or visual double meaning. Actions or episodes from the book are definitely not heard in sound - not one measure would have materialized differently if the music was for example intended for symphony. The music has proven to be a double tribute. On the one hand to the artist Fournier, who, in his only novel has summoned an irreplaceable vision of youth and quickly thereafter, during earlier manslaughter, is hit by a bullet. On the other hand the symbolic meaning of the character Le Grand Meaulnes, as the focal point of inspired events in a massive, mythical landscape. Escher bicycled in many directions in 1950 through that landscape, Sologne, in the heart of France. It lay there as in Fournier's depiction: a poor, sterile, thinly populated region, but wide and quiet: cher pays the Sologne, inutile, taciturne et
profond. On that bicycle tour Escher began hearing music that shortly afterwards adopted the form found in the hymne. The other source of inspiration is best formulated by the passage: Ah! frère, compagnon, voyageur. Comme nous étions persuadés, tous deux, que le bonheur était proche, et qu'il allait suffire de se mettre en chemin pour l'atteindre! It would become a hymn of youthful pursuit and failure, which often in its fervour, purer and larger is than many a calculated success, provided that striving for this Phoenix could escape from a burning fire. Hymne is a polymetric composition, initially two-voiced, then three-voice and thereafter mailing four-voiced, built around a cantus firmus in which two independent counterparts of a mobile nature are combined with an inverted counterpoint. One of the counterparts doubles itself in a canon, so that a four-voiced work arises. The cantus firmus itself (beginning in the fourth measure in saxophone, first violins and violas) is sounded
four times alternatively in the highest and the lowest voices. The two approximately long halves have each their own countermelody, which both appear in an inverted order against the cantus-firmus section. These four polymelodic periods finish each time in a chord interlude, in which energy for the sequence for the next period is provided. In contrast to these intermezzi, which never are identical in sound, the three melodies are not modified until the coda. Only in the coda in which the last interlude continues, do earlier melodic elements develop. But this turning point can only provide here the largest climax in the work, where the melodic energy, slowly but surely, dies out. There arises an 'alternation in stability' because of the increase of two, three and four-voices each time as something new, and due to the fact that between the melodies in each period, different intervals arises since the voices never have the same harmony. The orchestration is a consequence of the structure.
The distinguished melodies must clearly resolve against each other by the unchanged and unrelenting instrumentation. - RUDOLF ESCHER

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