Sydney Conservatorium of Music's recorder section of the Early Music Ensemble
I came to write it because I like the Folia theme so much,
and I thought I would like to have a version that I could play and that
went on, at a fairly fast speed, for several minutes. Since the only instrument
I play (and the only one I compose for) is the recorder, I made this five-part
version for the recorder consort of which I am a member, The Reluctant Consort.
After the statement of the theme in the plainest five-part version possible, eleven variations follow, the main interest moving from one voice to another. To conclude, two of the variations are repeated. I mostly omitted bar 16 so that the music would continue driving along relentlessly. That's the way I like La Folia to sound.
Although it has had a number of public performances, it has never been published or recorded. Anyone who would like more information can contact me by email: email@example.com.
|Theme of Variations on La Folía||© Eccles, reproduced with permission|
Duration: 1'26", 1353
kB. (128kbs, 44100 Hz)
Die neue Konzert- und Kongresshalle in der alten schwedischen Universitätsstadt Uppsala ist ein eigenwilliges Gebäude. Das im September 2007 eröffnete Kulturzentrum liegt mitten in der Stadt und lädt mit drei unterschiedlich großen Konzertsälen, mit Konferenzräumen und einer großen Ausstellungsflächen zu vielfältiger Nutzung ein. Der große Konzertsaal, aus dem dieses Euroradio-Konzert live übertragen wird, fasst etwa 1.150 Zuschauer und ist nach neuesten Erkenntnissen im Bereich der Akustik gebaut. Hier finden nicht nur klassische Konzerte statt, sondern er ist auch für Pop-. Jazz und Folkkonzerte geeignet. So erklingt heute skandinavische Folk- und Tanzmusik gespielt von sieben der bekanntesten schwedischen Musiker in diesem Genre. hr2-kultur überträgt das Konzert im Rahmen des Euroradio-Schwerpunkts „Klassik trifft Volksmusik“.
Text in French
Text in English
On vit sortir d'une grotte profonde
From a deep cave were seen to appear
Froment, Louis de (conductor)
La Tentation de Saint Antoine, a concert work for contralto and string quartet written in 1945 (and adapted for contralto, quartet and string orchestra in 1952), stands therefore rather apart from his main output in its genre, though not in its ironic tone. According to its title-page, the piece is 'based on airs and verses of the 18th century, so that the demons besetting the saint wear curiously charming masks out of ancient régime pastoral, and the apocalyptic uproar mentioned in the first song is rendered by the musical means of a classical cantata. There is room, though, for Egk's playful music personality to exert itself, rather in the manner of Stravinsky's in Pulcinella. The vocal lines seem to have been kept pretty much intact, if rhythmically altered, but the strings almost always used to provide homogeneous textures, are in a spikier harmonic world, and Egk evidently revelled in the inappropriateness of his chosen airs, which often have a nursery-rhyme simplicity, to the expression of spiritual crisis. In doing so, however, he was contributing to the strong tradition of comedy in the Saint Anthony story, a tradition which deals with the Last Things not as the dire threat Everyman felt himself to face, but as so much absurdity.
Duration: 3'05", 2900
kB. (128kbs, 44100 Hz)
| The complete Ma Follia, 15 pages in pdf-format, 1.1
© Victor Eijkhout 2006, used with permission
I had come across La Follia as the name of an early music ensemble in Austin,
TX, where I live. When I looked up the history of that name I started thinking
about writing my own variations. The direct reason for doing so was the monthly
competition on the kvraudio.com web site. Ma Follia, or rather the recording
of it, was my entry for October 2006. The limit on competition entries is 2
minutes, so every variation was really only the first half of the theme, with
the exception of the last variation which returns to the tonic.
Since then, I've extended it to about 3 minutes, by supplying the second half to some variations. Since I find simple repetition a bit boring, the second halves bring in new material. I do this by using double-choral effects between A1,A2,T1 and A3,A4,T2. In the first variation the second choir simply thickens up the harmony, but in the second they play polyrhythmically 4-over-3, and in the third variation there is a little hocket passage between the two choirs. After two half variations with soprano and alto solo parts, there is a full variation with a swinging tenor solo, over which in the second half the higher voices quote a jazz tune.
True to tradition, this set has a variation in the major key, but instead of simply converting the chords to major, I wrote a brief passages of somewhat wild variations. Ma Follia ends with a dense texture of very traditional harmonies, played by the full ensemble, with sopranino and gar klein joining in on the second half.
World Premiere performance by Ensemble Parthenia, October 22, 2011 at Picture Ray Studio in Manhattan
Variations on La Follia began, appropriately enough, as a kind of a joke.
I first heard Parthenia when they performed at my friend Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek’s wedding. I spent most of that lovely afternoon sitting as close as possible, listening to them play Lawes and Purcell and Jenkins, completely enthralled. Later, Jacqui suggested that I might want to write a piece for her to sing with Parthenia. I immediately agreed. I had worked with viols before, on the Voices of Light project (which Jacqui, a member of Anonymous 4, had sung countless times). I loved the sound of viols.
During the first part of 2010, I set several poems by an Irish poet (Jacqui hails from the Emerald Isle) but try as hard as I could, the music kept coming out as modern string quartet music, not viol music. Violins, viola, and cello seem related and similar to viols but are actually entirely different. What is idiomatic and simple for the violin is not necessarily so for the treble viola, for example, and the sound of the ensemble is very different: a consort of viols has a haunting, mysterious sound, an evocative wistfulness that is deeply appealing to me.
In short, I had misjudged how very unique viols were and so, I put aside some 30 minutes of music and undertook a deep immersion in viol technique and repertory. I listened to hours of recordings and studied dozens of scores, often note by note to understand the technique and fingerings.
One day, on a lark, I started to play around with La Follia, that ancient tune that attracted so many composers including Marais, Vivaldi, and CPE Bach. In my spare time, I’d write a variation or two.< They sounded like they’d be fun to play so I wrote to Lisa Terry and suggested she hear all the new music I’d been working on, the LaFo - as we called it - as well as a some short etudes. We spent a very long afternoon going through it all and we both laughingly agreed that it that it was high time
someone wrote a new set of “La Follias.”
And so, what began as a diversion became a major compositional focus for a while. All the same, my piece was never intended to be serious competition to the La Follia masterpieces of the Baroque and Renaissance. Rather, it’s a collection of “follies,” with (hopefully) at least a tiny bit of humor. For example, there’s a variation in which one of the bass viols begins some elaborate passagework, accompanied by the other three players. Then it gets a little too florid and deliberately goes on too long until it becomes obnoxious. In exasperation, the other players finally shut up the by-now nearly manically out of control bass viol.
William Faulkner wrote “the past is never dead, it's not even past.” While viols have a long tradition, and an awesomely beautiful repertory,there always will be more music to write. The challenges composers have today are the eternal problems, the same ones that Sainte-Colombe and Marais and Purcell and Jenkins and Lawes all grappled with: how to compose for these gorgeous, evocative instruments and how to honor and (hopefully) extend a great repertory with new music that aspires to speak, with some fluency and eloquence, the language of viols.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Lisa Terry and the rest of Parthenia for their enthusiasm and dedication to viol music. It has been a great pleasure to work with them and I hope to write much more music for these instruments.
La Folia by Eisentanz
La Folie D' Espagne by Erna Schmidt
Well, I had a German girlfriend (professional singer) who was crazy about baroque music and because she died very young (28 years old)
I decided to dedicate one of my compositions to her memory and picked for that the very baroque-like Folia theme.
I knew this theme well because I played several sets of variations
by C.P.E.Bach, another Bach son and A. Scarlatti myself and was familiar with versions of Pasquini, Vivaldi, Corelli and Rachmaninoff.
I checked at the internet and found your web-site. I noticed that there was not yet a set of variations made for Concert band. Then I got this commission from Larry Harper in Wisconsin and voila.....I waited till I finished the whole piece to inform you that a new set of variations was born. The composition is a theme with 8 variations plus a finale (a big fugue mixed in rondo form) and the entire lenght is 15 minutes.
Duration: 7'05", 8.6 MB. (128kbs, 44100Hz)
I had thought to submit my folia, but didn't think my work
really merited inclusion. Besides, there is always one more variation that
could be tacked on, so I fear it may never be "finished."
I would agree with the assessment that it's a very convential approach; I'm a very conventional person, and I have only a beginning/student level of composition competence, so it only stands to reason. I'm gratified to hear that you found it listenable, and I'll gladly submit whatever information you need to include it in the Folia museum.
I think of my folia as a continual work in progress, so fixing the date may be difficult. I wrote the first variations sometime in 2000, perhaps; at any rate, it was not long after I discovered the Folia Home Page for the first time. I had already heard of the folia in college, where I took one year of basic music theory, and I've always admired it: Simple and elegant, yet robust and flexible, with a certain ancient flavor. One day a friend heard me playing a simple variation on the church piano after services and asked me what I was playing. I couldn't remember the name of the theme, but I remembered that Corelli and Salieri both produced variations. In looking for the answer to my friend's question, I stumbled upon the Folia Home Page and I spent an evening reading it all. After reading the history of the folia and looking at some of the examples of the early and late folias, I decided that writing my own (modest) set of variations would be an interesting problem to tackle.
I generally write music not for the passion of the creative or artistic process, but as a sort of relaxing mind game.
Why write a folia? I write variations on the folia for the same reason that I write programs to automatically generate music from words and text: It's an interesting problem, and that's the sort of thing that makes me happy. The folia represents to me a sense of order. My approach to the folia is conventional, because I see it as a convention: It's so pervasive and flexible that it's like a musical institution, almost a fact of nature. It's simple, instantly recognizable, harmonious, and balanced, but can be employed in all sorts of novel ways. Because of this, the folia has a calming, reassuring effect on me -- as if it reminds me that there can be order to the universe after all, even when it doesn't seem like it. So whenever I feel particularly chaotic, I can always ease my troubled mind through the exercise of applying a new figuration or formula to the pattern folia to see what new orders and sub-orders are produced by the combination.
I hope that doesn't seem overly pretentious. In fact, it's quite simple: Some people have a brandy and a cigar to relax, or curl up with a good book, or sit down to add some more rigging to their scale model of a Spanish galleon. I write music. It's nice, clean hobby.
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