»To Eleana Bisbal«

 

For piano solo
Duration: ca. 17 minutes

When, in 1983, I had the opportunity to write a work for vocalists and chamber ensemble (which I withdrew in 1985 in order to revise it and re-orchestrate it as a work for speaker, soprano, jazz combo, and orchestra), I did not know initially how to approach the task. I decided to begin by writing some piano pieces, which would serve as a means of exploring and refining the tonal material I had chosen for the large composition.

These are the origins of the cycle »10 Studies to „Just an Accident?“«, which ended up providing not only the harmonic material but also influencing individual sections in a variety of different ways. In some pieces individual melodic phrases are worked out, which would occupy an important space within the vocal structure, and many harmonic focal points were first tested on the piano. I was interested in creating a synthesis of intervallic structures that included the notes of a series relating to Webern, and musical ideas related to the text by Alan Levy and the interweaved stories of the victims of the absurd contained within it.

The idea of representing the cultural origin of the victims of the absurd as representative of the personality of the artist and as a symbol for persecuted people had already taken shape in the piano pieces.

Individual pieces and their durations:

  1. Slow, but emphatic
  2. Witty
  3. Allegretto in Spanish character
  4. Canción (Poco Andante)
  5. Serenata (Poco Allegretto)
  6. Tempo di Fandango
  7. Foxtrott
  8. Quasi Blues
  9. Cha-cha
  10. Epilogue (Andante espressivo)

It will be noticeable that Webern's compositional technique exerts almost no influence on this work, even if its starting point is Webern's own absurd death. One of Webern's rows may indeed form a kind of inaudible skeleton which seems to be woven into the overall composition unobtrusively—something that also applies to the piano pieces, and even if the first two pieces engage in a naïve play with Webern's harmonic language and his handling of rows, it is still merely play rather than an in-depth engagement.

Pieces 3 - 6 deal with the cultural origins of Enrique Granados: Flamenco, Fandango, a Serenata and a Spanish Canción are explored here. Jiří Šlitr's cabaret background is portrayed in pieces 7 - 9 (Foxtrot, Quasi Blues, Cha-cha), and the coda, which presents »the moral of the story,« appears in the 10th piece.

The most important outcome of the piano pieces, however, is the flexible form that permits the unabashed compilation of such diverse stylistic elements and dispenses with the historical development that led modern music towards serialism and all subsequent reactions such as micropolyphony, minimalism, and others.