Friedrich Cerha: Les Adieux (Elegie)

Friedrich Cerha Les Adieux (Elegie)
Les Adieux (Elegie)

Friedrich Cerha: Les Adieux (Elegie)

Year of composition:
new version 2007
Scored for:
for ensemble
Friedrich Cerha
2 1 2 2 - 2 1 2 0 - perc(2), cel, pno, vln(2), vla, vc, cb
Instrumentation details:
clarinet in A
bass clarinet in Bb
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
trumpet in C
1st trombone
2nd trombone
1st percussion
2nd percussion
1st violin
2nd violin
Für das Klangforum Wien
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Les Adieux (Elegie)

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

The origin of my 2005 ensemble piece Les Adieux was a piano work, Elegie, dating from 1963. This is a work of contemplative character, whose essential principle is the opposition between spacious sounds – mostly played pianissimo – and rather short attacks. At the time the piece was intended as a rebellion against certain taboos of ‘new music’, such as the avoidance of consonant intervals and triads, as well as against the prevailing nervous hyperactivity. Les Adieux demands attentive listening to sustained notes and resonance chords of varying timbre, such as those produced by the piano’s ‘artificial pedal’ when keys are silently depressed before notes are sounded in another register.

The title Les Adieux refers on the one hand to the work’s meditative character and, on the other, to the fact that here I bid farewell – not without a certain wistful nostalgia – to certain conceptual formulae that have haunted me in recent years. These include: a combination of a fast melodic line containing brief repetitions of notes with a trill, which can be traced (admittedly far-fetched) back to the last two bars of the second of Webern’s Op. 14 Lieder, and which I had varied in a multitude of different ways; the pulsating reiteration of short spiccato notes for strings, such as appear characteristically in my recent Momenten for orchestra; or my delight in little figures consisting of notes of equal duration played in isolation. From all these I have taken my leave. In other respects, Les Adieux performs a function in my creative work similar to that which the piano piece Elegie did in its own time. It shares with the earlier work the alternation already described: between pianissimo sounds, during which one loses the sense of temporal succession, and short, weighty attacks whose suggestion of pulse reaffirms the experience of time’s passing – whereby the static element emerges as the work’s prevalent characteristic.

Friedrich Cerha

(Translation: Peter Burt)

Special prints

Les Adieux (Elegie)

Friedrich Cerha: Les Adieux (Elegie)

study score
for ensemble , 22’
Instr.: 2 1 2 2 - 2 1 2 0 - perc(2), cel, pno, vln(2), vla, vc, cb

Les Adieux (Elegie)

Friedrich Cerha: Les Adieux (Elegie)

study score
for ensemble , 22’
Instr.: 2 1 2 2 - 2 1 2 0 - perc(2), cel, pno, vln(2), vla, vc, cb

World première

Tese delle Vergini, Venedig (IT)
Klangforum Wien
Stefan Asbury

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