Program Note

This piece is written in the memory of the French composer Henri Dutilleux who would have celebrated his 100th birthday at the time this piece was completed in January 2016.

 

I started writing this piece in Paris in May 2013 when Dutilleux died aged 96. Dutilleux helped to shape and form my sound, taste and sense of aesthetics and for me was a symbol of French music. In deep mourning I sketched the first few pages of this piece.

 

In my first sketch there was no piano, and it was titled “Ascend”. Not long after I stopped working on this piece, I was too overtaken with grief, and I left Paris. About three years later, as his 100th birthday was nearing I decided to return to this piece and to add a piano.

The piano for me represented the individual, a protagonist dealing with deep sorrow. A lonely voice in a world filled with voices.

The strings start off the piece in a procession. The string writing of the first few pages is borrowing heavily from the baroque lamento, with a repeated pattern of notes that creates dissonances and resolutions and an ever descending bass.

 

The piano has three main elements through-out this piece:
*A three note motive (A-Bb-Db) which was taken from Dutilleux’s piece “The Shadows of Time”, a piece based on Anne Frank’s diary. In his piece, those three notes are sang by a child with the words “Pourquoi nous?” – “Why us?”.

 

The second element presented by the piano is a series of very quick disjunct patterns. Those patterns are supposed to represent murmuring, or crying in an onomatopoeia.

 

The third and final major element is represented by thick chords played by the pianist who depict the church bells. As this piece is written about my grief, I thought that the Kübler-Ross model (better known as “The five stages of grief”) would be a suitable platform to shape the arc of the piece. The piece starts in Denial, goes through anger, bargaining, depression and finally concludes with
acceptance.

Élégie

Technical Information

Category: Concerto

​Instrumentation: Piano and String Orchestra

Year of composition: 2016

Duration: ~14 min.

 

Awards
ACUM Award 2017 (ACUM is the Israeli equivalent of ASCAP or BMI)

Runner-up at Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute (2016)

Premiere Information

Musicians: The Juilliard Orchestra. Robert Fleitz - Piano. Jefferey Milarksy - Conductor.

Audio Score

Video excerpt from rehearsal

Perusal Score

Media

© 2019 Michael Seltenreich

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