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Department 1

Conservatory of Music


This piece for solo piano demonstrates a wide range of techniques utilized in twentieth century composition. The theme is taken from the Finale of Igor Stravinsky's ballet "The Firebird", which itself is based on a Russian folk song. Each subsequent variation focuses on one or more compositional technique.

I. Theme

II. March (chords by thirds, extended triads)

III. Molto grave e expressivo (chromaticism)

IV. L'istesso tempo (ten-tone row)

V. Fast and light (twelve-tone row, secundal harmony)

VI. Much less (minimalism, extended techniques)

VII. Hazy (quartal harmony, modal melody)

VIII. Finale (spectralism)

The order of the variations partly reflects a chronological motion of harmony through the twentieth century, but also demonstrates a building of large-scale tension, releasing that tension, then focusing on the aftermath of that release. The final variation creates a symmetry within the form of the piece, with chords rising into the uppermost register of the piano, just as the piece began.