LE JOUEUR DE VIÈLE

(2015) for violin and (imagined) dancer – 10 Minutes

Work Description

Commissioned by: Cid-Femmes
Category: Solo Works, Staged, Works for 2-6 Players, Graphic
Year Composed: 2015
Duration: 10 Minutes
Orchestration: solo violin and dancer / solo violin and imagined dancer
Availability: Enquire
Performances:
First performance:
– 4 August 2015 at Église St Pol Aurélien, Ouessant, as part of Musiciennes à Ouessant festival.
Ryoko Yano (violin)
Other performances:
04.06.16 Trifolion, Echternach, Luxembourg by Jehanne Strepenne and Gianfranco Celestino
02.07.16 Artikuss, Soleuvre, Luxembourg by Jehanne Strepenne and Gianfranco Celestino
07.08.16 Basilique d’Avioth, France by Jehanne Strepenne

Notes

32 notated boards based on Lou Koster’s oratorio ‘Der Geiger von Echternach.’ For this piece, I have tried to reduce the original oratorio for orchestra, choir and soloists to the bare essential: the sound of a single violin. I am adopting the original form of the 32 sections of the poem by Nik Welter, to which Koster based her composition. This poem tells the story of the fiddle player from the town of Echternach, Luxembourg. The dancer, who represents the people of the town in the story, gives the composition a real, but still imaginary theatrical dimension. The dancer’s movements are included in the 32 notated boards: they are often abstract and include expression markings reminiscent of the quirky style of Satie. For the premiere at Ouessant, the violin imagines the dancer.

The basis for my musical composition has two main themes: the solo violin theme adapted from the original composition by Koster, and the processional music of Echternach, based on a folk music theme. Lou Koster has borrowed this theme several times in the oratorio. By anchoring the rest of the music in these two themes, I hope to have managed to keep the visceral nature of the work while giving it a new outfit through a contemporary music language.

The titles of the 32 notated boards thus follow the fiddle player named Veit, who in the 7th century leaves the town of Echternach with his wife to travel to the Middle East. On returning home a few years later, he is accused of killing his wife. The members Veil’s family, believing he wouldn’t return from his journey and hearing rumours about the rumour, have taken and shared all of his possessions. Veil tells the people of the town how his wife had died in a desert during their travel. The town prepares to hang Veil in the main square front of everyone for the crime they believe he has committed. On the day, he asks for a permission to play the violin for one last time. He plays his violin fiercely, thus telling his story through the music, coloured with beautiful melodies, that describe a myriad of emotions. Through the music, the people of the town, who have gathered at the main square, recognise Veil’s love for his wife, his grief and his faith for God. Upon listening to these melodies, they begin to dance. The music intensifies, and so does the dance. At the end of the musical piece, people become intoxicated with dance. Walking through the crowd, Veil plays the final notes so hard to completely break the violin. He walks away without anyone noticing. People continue dancing for two days in a row, and are finally brought back from their trance by St. Willebrord, apostle of the Netherlands. The annual procession of Echternach still commemorates this legend every spring. C. K. 2015