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Morton Feldman: The Viola in My Life 4

  • for viola and orchestra
  • 2 3 3 2 - 2 2 2 1 - perc(2), hp, cel, str
  • Duration: 20’
  • Soloists:
    viola
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    cor anglais
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    bass clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    tenor trombone
    bass trombone
    tuba
    1st percussion
    2nd percussion
    harp
    celesta (+pno)
    violin I
    violin II
    viola
    violoncello
    contrabass
  • Composer: Morton Feldman
  • Commission: Venice Biennale

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Work introduction

The cycle The Viola in My Life was begun in July 1970 in Honolulu (composed especially for Karen Phillips, resident performer at Hawaii University) and consists of individual compositions utilising various instrumental combinations with the viola.

“The compositional format is quite simple. Unlike most of my music, the complete cycle of The Viola in My Life (I-IV) is conventionally notated as regards pitches and tempi. I needed the exact time proportions underlying the gradual and slight crescendo characteristic of all the muted sounds the viola plays. It was this aspect that determined the rhythmic sequence of events.” (Feldman)

The attention demanded by Feldman’s music – so soft that it can almost not be heard – is so uniform that it suggests the idea of a surface. We are never quite sure where the sounds are coming from. Time, articulated in most music by rhythm, is perceived as being static. Each sound floats in space, is entirely independent of what has gone before and what has yet to come. Sounds do not progress but merely accumulate in the same place.

The Viola in My Life is a gorgeous succession of delicate sounds in which Feldman, through the interaction of sound and silence, conjures up a desolate magic on a plane where time is somehow altered, transformed.

Morton Feldman

Audiosamples

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

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