»with admiration to Nathan Milstein«

For violin and piano
Premiere: April 1st, 1978 in Weiz (Steiermark, AT) performed by Klaus Christian Schuster und René Staar
Duration: ca. 9 minutes
Score: ECA Nr. 72011
Available through:
Edition Contemp Art (Verlagsgruppe Hermann)
Goldschmiedgasse 10, A-1010 Wien
E-mail: sales{at}hermann.eu | tel: +43 / 1 / 534 62 40 | Fax: +43 / 1 / 534 62 67

Audio sample:

René Staar - April op.3

René Staar, violin
Harald Ossberger, piano



This piece is an attempt to write a tone-poem in the 20th century. As the title suggests, moods change as does the weather in April (May, June, July or August etc.). Moreover the piece is not to be taken very seriously, like so many of the jokes at the first of this month. One could say it is a kind of anti-»Heldenleben« in the truest sense of the word, for here positive and strong attributes are not accentuated, but rather the normal stupidities and weaknesses of an anti-hero are satirized.

The violin represents the (anti) hero, the piano his (evil or good) environment. And this is always in the sense of a musical parody.

The form of the piece is difficult to describe. One could call it a Potpourri. But it is best if one describes it as a (tone)poem.

The piece: Life (perhaps in an office) is monotonous. Bored (as the tempo marking indicates »Andante, but a little bored«) the violin plays his melody to the arid eighth-note movement of the piano. In fact he tries after only ten measures to break out with double stops, which excites the environment to sputter, »Is this guy crazy?« But that changes nothing about the situation! Then a big event from outside occurs, expressed as a few chords a la Meistersinger, and changes the whole attitude. Completely surprised the inhibited violinist plays, utterly shocked, an anxious cadence and falls immediately back into his boring life.

Once more the Meistersinger steps into his life, this time with a strong Mussorsky-ish color. The violinist, again horrified, this time grasps the situation which resolves itself immediately in false Tristan chords (in the piano). This provokes such a shock that he can only mumble (on the violin naturally). At this he begins to play »Schmalz a la Godowsky«. But he interrupts with a graceful avant-garde cadence which more or less asks, »Now, isn’t that beautiful?« He then continues his Godowsky to which the environment (in the piano) reacts completely normally. There are almost always stupid answers to stupid questions, thus the oft quoted »don’t ask«–just like chopinesque and Johann-Straussian expressions. As so often occurs, the hero exaggerates: the Godowsky theme is played a half tone higher, then still higher, and so on ...

During this the environment becomes more and more dissonant until it becomes a proper cluster-orgy. Now that everything seems to be at an end, the violinist begins his tired sad old song consisting of the eight-note movement of the beginning. In the piano, a sad extremely slowed down a major Polonaise by Chopin, false, of course. But the anti-hero gathers himself together and begins a sing of mockery of himself, interrupted by an outburst of sadness.

Out of mockery and laughter rises at the end a »really beautiful« theme, which notwithstanding cannot at all recognize the antihero. He ends the charade. April, April!!! {René Staar, Translation: Michael Ingham}