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Alfred Schnittke: (K)ein Sommernachtstraum

  • for large orchestra
  • 4 4 4 2 - 4 4 4 1 - timp, perc(5), hp, cel, cemb, pno, str
  • Duration: 10’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute (+picc)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    3rd flute (+picc)
    4th flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe
    4th oboe
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    3rd clarinet in Bb
    4th clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(Bb))
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in Bb
    2nd trumpet in Bb
    3rd trumpet in Bb
    4th trumpet in Bb
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    4th trombone
    violin I
    violin II
  • Composer: Alfred Schnittke

Work introduction

Between 1946 and 1948, I lived in Vienna. It was of decisive importance for my life, for it was there that I began my musical studies at the age of 12 (piano lessons with Charlotte Ruber). In Vienna, I received important impulses, both musical (Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under Josef Krips, Bruckner’s Eighth under Klemperer, the Entführung aus dem Serail under Knappertsbusch and so on) and also general (including the scene in Everyman where Death appears – a scene which always induces fear in me. I saw this scene in three Salzburg productions of the play, 1946, 1947 and 1948… unfortunately only the traditional excerpt in the Weekly Review, for at that time I had never been to Salzburg). I recall a basic musical tone, a certain Mozart-Schubert sound which I carried within me for decades and which was confirmed upon my next stay in Austria some 30 years later (…)

I also came into contact with Salzburg. In 1977, Gidon Kremer played Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with my cadenzas at the Festival there, thereby provoking a strong outcry from the press. In the same year, I played the harpsichord part in the performance of my own Concerto Grosso No 1 at the Mozarteum (also with Kremer) and in 1978, I provoked another storm of disapproval in the press there on account of my arrangement of Silent Night ("a desecration of culture") – again with Kremer. In 1983 I received the commission – an honour for any composer – to write an orchestral piece for the Festival, which illness prevented me from completing in time (for the 1984 Festival). Now it is ready. The piece should be played in a concert of Shakespeare settings, though it has no direct connection with Shakespeare. Yet it is not for that reason that it is called (K)ein Sommernachtstraum [(Not) a Midsummer Night’s Dream]. And that is all there is to say about my Mozart-Schubert-related rondo… I should like to add that I did not steal all the 'antiquities' in this piece; I faked them.

Alfred Schnittke


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Kleines Festspielhaus, Salzburg (AT)
ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
Leopold Hager

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