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VARIATIONS & MOZAICS ON A THEME OF STRAVINSKY 1975
for Full Symphony Orchestra
VARIATIONS & MOZAICS ON A THEME OF STRAVINSKY is a set of six variations on Igor Stravinsky’s “Four Russian Peasant Songs”, song #4: “Master Portly’s Lament”, for baritone voice and three-part women’s choir. The song divides neatly into three distinct musical sections. The first phrase is the baritone solo, like a cantor’s, singing the story. The second and third phrases are the choral answer, sung in two different harmonic planes. The Theme has only been changed by rewriting it for full orchestra. The six Variations spin out from this, each using its own formal design, developing fragments of the original Theme, interplayed with McLean’s melodic and harmonic themes and motives. The fifth Variation is titled Mozaics, and was composed at a later time, 1975, the first four variations being written in 1967-69. Mozaics, influenced by Stravinsky’s “Agon”, is a tribute/parody to the later styles of Stravinsky. The Bb clarinet has a jaunty, jazzy tune which makes the quality of this variation very light and humorous. Recapitulating the original song, the last Variation juxtaposes the original folk music with a slower variation of it, found in the horns, ending the work in a grandiose gesture of affirmation.
VARIATIONS & MOZAICS was originally an assignment, but it grew to become Priscilla McLean’s thesis for her Masters of Music in Composition from Indiana University in 1969. Encouraged to submit the music to the National Orchestral Symposium sponsored by Indiana University at Terre Haute in 1975, McLean added the Mozaics variation. VARIATIONS & MOZAICS was chosen as one of the winners, and was premiered by the Indianapolis Symphony, conducted by Oleg Kovalenko the same year. In 1978 the Louisville Orchestra, conducted by Jorge Master, premiered the revised work at Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. and recorded it for their Louisville Orchestra First Edition Records LS 762 in 1980. In 1979 the work was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Since then, it has had a long history of many performances by college as well as metropolitan orchestras. In 1980 it was published by Alexander Broude, Co., NYC, who also owned the rights to the Stravinsky Russian Peasant Songs (Breitkopf & Härtel). Today the Broude publisher is defunct, and the music is published by the composer under the name of MLC Publications.
Variations and Mozaics on a Theme of Stravinsky - Louisville Orchestra
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