Florent Schmitt: Dionysiaques

I am playing this for the American Bandmasters Association Conference on March 6, 2014 in Montgomery, Alabama. I personally think it is difficult, specifically the clarinet part…

Dionysiaques for Band, Op. 62, No. 1 was composed in 1913, and is listed on the Texas UIL Prescribed Music List as a Grade V. The title relates to the festivals held in ancient Greece to celebrate Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, drama, and other enjoyable things. The composition is very descriptive, beginning the celebration very sensuously, in the lower brasses and winds, with a more yearning theme in the upper voices. It becomes much busier as the celebration begins to “heat up”. Schmitt uses short bursts of highly chromatic material to elude to the sense of unpredictability that is often associated with such alcohol-induced celebrations. After awhile, the first of a series of jaunty, march-like party themes begins. Schmitt’s writing here can be rather difficult for any wind band, with quick unison trills, gigantic leaps, and alternating tempos. At times, the celebration seems to be calming down, and just before the end of the piece the music comes almost to a complete halt, but of course Schmitt has reserved the biggest climax of all for the end.

Just listening to this composition will help you to understand its complexities and difficulties in performance. It requires great technical skill and musical acuity. When you completely immerse yourself in the music, you really can see people dancing!

– Notes from windbandlit’s blog

Dionysiaques was not played until after World War I, during which time Schmitt wrote primarily for chorus and military band. Finally, in 1923, the work was premiered by the Garde Républicaine band in the Luxembourg gardens in Paris

Program note by Michael Votta Jr.

Dionysiaques, a work for mature university or professional ensembles, evades classification. Although Schmitt was a French composer who embraced the innovations of Debussy, this work also displays connections to German Romanticism and such post-Romantic composers as Stravinsky and Ravel. The score calls for unique instrumentation, although contemporary groups successfully adapt the work for modern ensembles. This pieces is fairly accessible for audiences, and musicians will enjoy the dramatic stylizations.

– Notes from Great Music for Wind Band

-from http://www.windrep.org/Dionysiaques


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