Orchestral rhapsody of 1883 by chabrier

Keywords: orchestral rhapsody of 1883 by chabrier
Description: Find composition details, parts / movement information and albums that contain performances of España, rhapsody for orchestra,… on AllMusic

From July to September 1882, Emmanuel Chabrier and his wife traveled in Spain, starting out from San Sebastián and winding up in Barcelona. Chabrier was enthralled with everything he saw and heard in Spain, and his impressions are recorded in an abundance of letters sent from the Iberian Peninsula by the composer to friends. In one such letter addressed to conductor Charles Lamoureux. Chabrier boldly states that "my rhythms, my tunes will arouse the whole orchestra to a feverish pitch of excitement; and you too will feel obliged to hold [your assistant] in your arms, so voluptuous will be my melodies." These were strong sentiments indeed, for up to this time Chabriér had been known primarily as a ne'er-do-well amateur composer of unsuccessful operettas.

All of that would change when the finished work, España, was given at the Concerts Lamoureux in Paris on November 4, 1883. It was immediately encored, and afterward routinely requested (and played) at Lamoureux Concerts and elsewhere for weeks afterward. The tunes were whistled in the streets of Paris. España made Chabrier an overnight celebrity in Paris, and he would reap the benefits of its fame to the end of his days. The work's single movement is in the shape of a Spanish dance in three beats, with a rhythm suggesting the strumming of a guitar.

España was written as a piano piece, and in later years Chabrier made something of a specialty out of it, pounding it out on bad pianos in cafés to the astonishment of onlookers. Of the work Chabrier himself said that "it is in F major and consists of nothing else." In this laconic statement there is a grain of truth; the primary melodic ideas that drive España are neither terribly original nor substantive. It is the tremendous rhythmic energy of the piece, combined with Chabrier 's colorful orchestration, that puts the piece over. And it did have impact on other musicians for long afterward; Stravinsky. perhaps half-consciously, echoes the central trombone part of España in the final tableau of his Petrushka (1911). The work's delightful melody became a hit song in the 1950s under the unlikely title "Hot-Diggity."

While most experts do not hold Chabrier 's España in the same exalted regard that they do his other orchestral works, such as Marche Joyeuse or Bourrée fantasque, the piece is still Chabrier 's best-known composition as far as the public is concerned. It is worth noting that España did not do as well in Germany, where Chabrier 's operas had already proved successful in German translations. In Spain, where the Spanish-flavored music of French composers such as Ravel. Debussy. and Bizet have long been respected and played, the Chabrier is yet looked upon as a weak sister of the zarzuela overture. Chabrier 's realization of the Spanish idiom was so close to the "real thing" that in Spain it seemed too familiar. Although this might be seen as something of a backward compliment to España, it also echoes the sentiments of French musicologist Louis Bourgault-Ducoudray, who wrote shortly after the 1883 premiere, "Emmanuel Chabriér belongs to that school of pioneer composers who copy Nature and are above all concerned to respect the truth."

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