Suite for violin and sextet Op. 38
Suite für Violine und Kammerorchester op. 38 (1924)
(geb. Wien, 21. Oktober 1885 — gest. Oxford, 9. November 1974)
I Moderato p. 3 / II Adagio p. 11 / III Largo p. 14 / IV Allegretto p. 16
Egon Wellesz, as a musician, was one of the most eminent pupils of Arnold Schönberg and also his first biographer. In his lifetime, following his emigration to England after the National Socialists seized power, he enjoyed wide respect in particular as the world’s leading expert in the field of Byzantine music but, as a composer, his works were largely ignored soon after the Second World War and fell into neglect. As a successor of Mahler and Schönberg he developed a style of his own that found expression inter alia in his nine symphonies. The Suite for Violin and Chamber Orchestra below dates from a period when he made extensive use of a number of different stylistic methods. In his one-act opera Alkestis Op. 35, composed in 1922-23, Wellesz had been intensively preoccupied with polytonality. He went further in this direction, inspired by a visit by Darius Milhaud to Vienna; Wellesz’ melodies for the solo voices, however, have a more complex and abstract harmonic structure than Milhaud’s. The Suite for Violin and Chamber Orchestra Op. 38 was composed in 1924. Each successive movement is shorter than the previous one, which is carried to an almost absurd extreme in the finale. The work is dedicated to the great violinist Alma Moodie, who gave the first performance in the fourth and final concert of the Supplementary Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Salzburg on 9 August 1924, accompanied by an ensemble conducted by Hermann Scherchen. (This concert was in succession to the main Festival of the ISCM in Prague in May 1924, its second year of existence.) The programme also included inter alia Philipp Jarnach’s String Quartet Op. 16 and Igor Stravinsky’s Octet. Wellesz’ Suite was apparently scored for solo instruments, since Nicolas Slonimsky, in his Music since 1900, mentions a “Short Suite for seven instruments by Egon Wellesz, a revival of the ancient suite in a pan-diatonic guise”. (Wellesz’ recollection that a Suite for 4 instruments was performed on this occasion is incorrect, as is the statement in Robert Schollum’s biography of Wellesz that the première of Opus 38 took place at Salzburg in 1928.)
For performance materials please contact the publisher Universal Edition, Vienna (www.universaledition.com).
Reprint in this form by kind permission of Universal Edition AG, Vienna.
Violin & Orchestra
160 x 240 mm