CATALOGUE

 

 

The entire Ivan Wyschnegradsky collection is deposited at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basle (Switzerland).

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information about the catalogue and scores:
contact@ivan-wyschnegradsky.fr

 

 

NB The works for several pianos are divided up as follows:
→ in the category ‘Chamber music’ : works for 2 pianos, for 2 pianos and another instrument, for 3 pianos.
→ in the category ‘Instrumental ensemble’ : works for 4 and for 6 pianos.

 

 

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Click on the icon to go to the CD or audio excerpt.

 


[91 works]
Filter by category: All | Chamber music | Instrumental ensemble | Orchestra | Solo instruments | Voice |


Opus 1 L’automne (Autumn, Petrograd, 7 November 1917)

Bass-baritone and piano.

details

Poem by F. Nietzsche (Russian translation by E.K. Guerzyk). Text in Russian and French.

Playing time: 4’30

Publisher: Belaïeff.

 

Composer’s note: The music of this piece was composed directly on the Russian text. It then turned out that the rhythm of the original text did not match the music, for ‘L’Automne’ was written by Nietzsche in prose with a free rhythm, and the translator, wishing above all to preserve the spirit of the work, translated it in the same free style without copying the rhythm of the original. This explains the absence of the original text in the vocal part. The same thing applies to the 3 Chants sur Nietzsche (‘Le soleil décline’, Op. 3, for bass-baritone and piano) and to the 2 Poèmes de Nietzsche (‘Après un orage nocturne’ and ‘Le signe de feu’), for bass-baritone and piano in quarter-tones. (English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 2 Deux préludes pour piano (Two Preludes for piano, spring of 1916)


details

Playing time: 3’40 (1’40 + 2′)

Publisher: Belaïeff.

First performance: 7 January 1977 at the Maison de Radio France, Paris, by Jean-François Heisser.

 




Opus 3 Le soleil décline (The Sun is going down, Petrograd, 1918)

Bass-baritone and piano.

1) – Bientôt elle sera assouvie… 2) – Oh, vie … 3) – Oh, ma clarté dorée

details

Poems by F. Nietzsche (Russian translation by E.K. Guerzyk)

Playing time: 11′45 (3′ + 4′15 + 4′30)

Publisher: Belaïeff.

 




Opus 4 Le scintillement des étoiles lointaines (The Glittering of Distant Stars, 1918)

Soprano and piano.

details

Poem in Russian by Sophie Savitch Wyschnegradsky, the composer’s mother.

Playing time: 1’30

Unpublished

 




Opus 5a Quatre fragments (Four Fragments, Petrograd, 7 November 1918)

1) – Sauvage, quadrangulaire 2) – Parfaitement libre 3) – Fantasque 4) – Avec une nécessité de fer

Version for piano in semitones.

details

Playing time: 2′30

Unpublished

First performance: 5 October 1979 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Jean-Claude Pennetier.

 




Opus 5b Quatre fragments (Four Fragments, Petrograd, 7 November 1918)

1) – Sauvage, quadrangulaire 2) – Parfaitement libre 3) – Fantasque 4) – Avec une nécessité de fer

Version for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 2′30

Unpublished

First performance: 24 June 1988 in Vienna, by Georg Friedrich Haas and Karl-Heinz Schuh.

 




Opus 6 Chant douloureux et Étude (Painful Song and Etude, 1918)

Violin written in semi-, thirds, quarter- and sixths of tones, and piano in semitones.


details

Playing time: 7’25 (4’10 + 3’15)

Unpublished

First performance: 5 October 1979 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Jacques Guestem, violin, and Jean-Claude Pennetier, piano.

 




Opus 7 Méditation sur 2 thèmes de la Journée de l’Existence (Meditation on 2 themes from The Day of Existence, 1918-19, rev. 1976, 1918)

Cello written in semi-, thirds, quarter- and sixths of tones, and piano in semitones.


details

Playing time: 6′

Publisher: Editions Jobert (2013).

First performance: 15 February 1976 at the Conservatoire Serge Rachmaninov. Paris, by Jacques Wiederker, cello, and Martine Joste, piano.

 

The Day of Existence was written in 1916/17 and was Wyschnegradsky’s first large-scale work. The text describes the path to cosmic consciousness and the composition itself is the realization of the corresponding concept of the sound continuum. Although the work is still bound by the conventions of the traditional half-step, it yearns urgently toward smaller intervals.Aware of this after he had used quartertones in his opus 5, Wyschnegradsky wrote the opus 7 Meditation on two themes, carefully illuminating the possibilities of micro-tones inherent in these bars. The cello, unfettered by the limitations of the half-and whole-step refines the third, quarter, and sixth tones into a post-Wagnerian ultrachromaticism. Gottfried Eberle (LP disc Block, English Translation: Alice Dampmann)

 




Opus 8 L’Évangile rouge (The Red Gospel, 1918, 1937, rev. 1963 and 1979)

13 songs for bass-baritone and piano(s)

a – Version for bass-baritone and piano in semitones, Petrograd, Nov.-Dec. 1918;

b – Version for bass-baritone and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, 1937, rev. 1963 and ’79.


details

Text: Vassily Kniasev

Playing time: 11’30

Unpublished

First performance of version b: 1st September 1983 in Berlin, by Boris Carmeli, bass-baritone, Aloys and Bernhard Kontarsky, pianos.

 




Opus 9 Deux chants sur Nietzsche (Two Songs on Nietzsche, autumn of 1923, rev. 1963, 1937, rev. 1963 and ’79)

Bass-baritone and piano(s).
1) – Après un orage nocturne 2) – Le signe de feu
a – Version for bass-baritone and piano in quarter-tones, autumn 1923, rev. 1963
b – Version for bass-baritone and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, 1937, rev. 1963 and ’79




details

Poems by F. Nietzsche (Russian translation by E.K. Guerzyk)

Playing time: 12′10 (4′40 + 7′30)

Unpublished

First performance: 28 February 1991 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Jacques Bona, bass-baritone, Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste, pianos.

 

In the old Wyschnegradsky catalogue published in 1972 by La Revue Musicale (no. 290-291), Opus 9 was a Chant funèbre for string orchestra and two harps (1922). It would seem that that score was destroyed; at that time, the Deux Chants sur Nietzsche bore the opus number 11 (Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 10 Sept variations sur la note do (Seven Variations on C, 1918-20 for the first five, the following two subsequently)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

The seventh variation was originally Humoresque for piano in quarter-tones.

Also see Une Pièce (Ein Stück) without opus number.

 

Playing time: 11′35

Unpublished

First performance: 10 November 1945 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Pierre Boulez and Serge Nigg, First performance of the first five variations.

First performance of the seven variations: 10 February 1977 at McGill University, Montreal (Canada), Bruce Mather and Pierrette Lepage.

 

Opus 10 Sept variations sur la note do




Opus 11 Chant nocturne (Night Song, sketched in 1927, rev. 1971)

For violin written in semi-, quarter-, sixths and eights of tone and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 10′

Unpublished

First performance: 10 February 1977 at McGill University, Montreal, by Adolfo Bornstein, violin, Bruce Mather and Pierrette Le Page, pianos.

 

The genesis of this work, over which hovered the idea of the ‘delicate rocking of fifths’, goes back to 1919. In 1927, a little piece was written for violin and piano in quarter-tones. The composer deemed it insignificant and never had it played. Fortunately, in 1971-72, whilst revising his production, Ivan Wyschnegradsky felt he could fundamentally rework and expand it. He would keep the beginning (with the rocking round the fifth of B-F sharp), compose a prolongation and the three violin cadenze, develop the rhythmic and spatial ultrachromaticism, and, in addition, make use of sixths of tones for the violin part. After a half-century of purgatory, Wyschnegradsky finally consented, releasing into space his song of B. (Solange Ancona – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 12 Dithyrambe (Dithyramb, 1923-24)

Two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

The work was updated by Bruce Mather in 1990.


details

Playing time: 10′

Unpublished

First performances: 9 June 1926 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Henri Cliquet-Pleyel and Dominique Jeanes (lost version). First performance of the version revised by Bruce Mather: 28 February 1991, Centre Pompidou, Paris, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste, pianos.

 

The first performance of the initial version of Dithyrambe took place on 9 June 1926 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel by pianists Dominique Jeanes and Henri Cliquet-Pleyel in the course of a concert of Russian music that also included works by Arthur Lourié, Nikolai Nabokov, Vladimir Donkelsy, Alexander Tcherepnin, Serge Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky. One of the performers was a certain Claudio Arrau…

However, the score that Wyschnegradsky left us underwent many successive revisions in keeping with the composer’s habit. All the irrational rhythms were surely added thirty years later at the time Wyschnegradkry was elaborating his theory on ultrachromaticism.

He left us two scores, one with piano 1 in traditional notation and piano II in notation with symbols of quarter-tones, the other with piano II in normal notation and piano 1 with quarter-tone signs. On each of the scores, he wrote numerous modifications in pencil: added notes, deleted notes, rhythmic values changed, entire bars and passages deleted. But those modifications are different on the two scores…

In order to make a performance of the work possible, I had to take the huge responsibility of making choices, transferring those choices on the score (on a photocopy, naturally) and then entrusting the two scores to a copyist to constitute a single score with the two pianos in traditional notation. (Bruce Mather, 13 July 1990 – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 13 Quatuor à cordes n°1 (String Quartet No. 1, 1923-24, rev. 1953-54)


details

Playing time: 14′30

Unpublished

First performance: 5 August 1979 at the Festival Estival, Paris, by the Margand Quartet.

 

The work is based on a specific harmonic idea which atone gives it its unity. This idea is the disposition of four tones in the most compact way, that is at intervals of a quarter-tone. The work begins with such a chord (c, c a quarter-tone higher, c#, c three quarter-tones higher) and ends with exactly the same chord (the same four tones untransposed). During the work it constantly reappears in different transpositions. Viewed from this angle, the whole work can perhaps be considered as a pulsation of this basic harmony, sometimes expanding, sometimes contracting, always creating in its course various harmonic, melodic and rhythmic forms as if an agglutinant force were constantly trying to press the four voices against each other as compactly as possible. This agglutinant force is always counterbalanced by an opposing force which tries to separate the sounds from one another. (Without this second force there would be no composition, merely the initial chord in a state of immobility.) In short, the work is a result of the equilibrium between these two forces. Among the expanded harmonic forms special notice should be taken of the inversion of the initial chord which is composed of superimposed quarter-tone seventh (23 quarter-tones), the complementary chord to a quarter-tone second (1 quartertone). The transition from this extended form to the most contracted chord gives birth in the second part of the composition to a formula composed of 4 chords which appears for the first time in bar 115 and is repeated several times later on. It also serves as a conclusion to the work. The first chord of this formula is the inversion of the basic harmony (expanded form), the last is the basic chord itself (contracted form); the second and third chords are intermediate forms arranged from superimposed fifths and fourths. This formula, without being a cadence in the correct sense of the term, nevertheless possesses certain cadential properties (…)
The movement of the two upper voices is a symmetrical inversion of that of the two lower voices. The movement of the first violin is an inversion of that of the cello (3 successive steps each of 11 quarter-tones descending in the violin, ascending in the cello), that of the second violin an inversion of the viola (3 successive descending steps of 1, 9, 1 quarter-tones respectively in the second violin, the same three steps ascending in the viola) (…)
One question occurs: is this quartet a tonal or atonal work? It cannot be called tonal since no chords which could be termed dominant or sub-dominant appear to point towards its centre, nor is any other tonal function manifested. On the other hand it can no longer be termed atonal since it commences and ends with the same untransposed chord, concluding with a cadence-like formula. Although both the lowest and highest voices have a pre-eminent position in each chord, this does not confirm the supremacy of the tones c or c three quarter-tones higher (d ) over the tones c one quarter-tone higher and c# (d). A perfect equality reigns between the 4 agglutinated tones and their preeminence is created by their relationship with the other 20 tones. However it would be inaccurate to conclude from this that a quadruple tonality exists and to see 4 different tonics in these four tones. lt would be nearer the truth to evolve the notion of a dense tonality (tonalité épaisse). The « tonic » of the work is not the four tones as a whole, nor one of them taken separately, but the whole tonal region between c and c three quarter-tones higher, the density (épaisseur) of which consists of three quarter-tones. The pre-eminent region is a continuum composed of an infinite number of tones, and only the necessity of a sonic realization requires the reduction of this continuum to a disposition of 4 quarter-tones. This could just as well have been seven eighth-tones, ten twelfth-tones or any other disposition. In this case the whole work would have been quite different. In other words, the work itself and its structure are strictly determined by the choice of sonic environment (quarter-tones). On the other hand it is no less determined by the tact that its « tonic » is not one musical sound but the whole continual sonic region of a musical space of a « density » of 3 quarter-tones comprising an infinite number of tones.
Through the extension of the idea of dense tonality by gradually increasing the range of the continuous interval through all degrees of density up to the dimension of total space, we arrive progressively at the idea which I have called pantonality. The ,,tonic » is no longer an isolated musical tone, neither is it a continuous region of musical space, it is the whole space audible in a state of sonic continuity. It follows logically that the idea of pantonality is that of atonality, since where the tonality is everywhere, it is nowhere in particular; the two terms are positive (pantonality) and negative (atonality) expressions of the same thing. The idea of tonality becomes superfluous and with it that of pantonality, which after all is an absurd term since it is self-contradictory. instead of pantonality one should speak of pansonority, a more concrete term demonstrating that all space is sonority, and that there is not a single place or point in space where sonority would not be present. This state of pansonority or of omnipresence in the totality of musical space, this overabundance in which « all space resounds », is the perfect equilibrium, the ultimate and absolute « consonance » towards which basically all music strives, in so far as tonal tensions of a purely sonic nature will not oppose the play of this natural force
. Ivan Wyschnegradsky (Cd Quatuor Arditti / Block, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 




Opus 14 Deux chœurs (Two Choruses, 1926-27, rev. 1936)

For mixed chorus, 4 pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart, and percussion.
1) – Levez les yeux vers la lumière 2) – Le Palais des travailleurs

details

Poem by A. Pomorsky.

Playing time: 10’30 (4’20 + 6’10)

Unpublished

First performance:

– December 1927 in Paris, at the USSR Commercial Representation Club, Ivan Wyschnegradsky and the singer Tzvetiaev performed Le Palais des travailleurs in an adaptation for solo bass and harmonium.

– 20 October 1988, Graz (Austria) for the whole work, by the Pro Arte Ensemble of Graz.

 

Composer’s note on the score: The four pianos are divided into two groups. Each group includes a piano tuned to the normal diapason and a piano tuned a quarter-tone lower, so that the two together achieve the complete quarter-tone scale (24 notes per octave) in the expanse of the audible musical space. Each group must be considered one instrumental unit, within which the two pianos complement one another. Consequently, it is indispensable that these two pianos have the same timbre and sound to the listener like a single instrument. (English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 15 Prélude et fugue (Prelude and Fugue, 1927)

Piano in quarter-tones.
Transcription for string quartet in 1928 (version lost).

details

Playing time: 8′ (2’10 + 5’50)

Unpublished

First performance: 19 December 1928 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by the Vandelle Quartet.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: November 1928. Rehearsal of my fugue by the Vandelle Quartet. The Vandelle Quartet plays my fugue before the Pro Musica committee. The quartet is accepted. 19 December 1928. Hearing of my fugue by the Vandelle Quartet at the Société Pro Musica concert. (English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 16a Prélude et Danse (Prelude and Dance, 1926)

Piano in quarter-tones.

details

Playing time: 4’05 (2’ + 2’05)

Unpublished




Opus 16b Prélude et Danse (Prelude and Dance, 1937, rev. 1953)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 4’05 (2’ + 2’05)

Unpublished

First performance: 28 March 1938 at the ‘Le Russe à l’étranger’ Musical Society, 26 Avenue de Tokio, Paris, by Henri Cliquet-Pleyel and Iska Aribo.

 




Opus 17 Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1929-30, summer 1936)

Symphony in quarter-tone system for orchestra of four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart (1929-30, originally for reduced orchestra, version lost; Part I at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France?? Transcription for four pianos, revision of movements II and III, summer of 1936).


details

Playing time: 23’45

Publisher: the score for 4 pianos was published by L’Oiseau Lyre, Monaco.

First performance: 25 January 1937 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Monique Haas, Ina Marika, Edward Staempfli and Max Vredenburg, under the composer’s direction.

 




Opus 18 Quatuor à cordes n°2 (String Quartet No. 2, 1930-31)


details

Playing time: 12’20

Unpublished

First performance: 2 February 1932 in Paris, at the 12th Concerts Montparnasse, by the Vandelle Quartet.

 

The second quartet, the Deuxième Quatuor à cordes en système de quart de ton was written in the years 1930/31 and was numbered op.18 by the composer. In contrast to the other two works to which the composer gave the title « String Quartet », it is divided into movements (I Allegro scherzando, Il Andante, III Allegro risoluto) which, with two quick movements flanking a slow middle movement, can still be indirectly classified as following the tradition of classical quartet composition. A closer look shows however that the difference between this and Wyshnegradsky’s one-movement compositions is not so great: in the latter there are also slow passages which might be compared to the middle movement of the second quartet. Thus viewed, the structural ideas which are used in the compositions for string quartet are very similar, in spite of their different musical style – and quite remote from the classîcal tradition. The fact that the thematic material of the first movement is taken up again in the finale, not merely as a quotation but as a main element, shows that the dynamism of the form in this work closely resembles that of the one-movement compositions. Later revisions of the third quartet suggest that Wyshnegradsky’s choice of one or more movements was purely arbitrary and that, from the composer’s point of view, the substance of the composition was little affected by such alteration, albeit a fundamental one. Klaus Ebbeke (excerpt from CD Arditti String Quartet, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 




Opus 19 Deux Études de concert (Two Concert Etudes, 1931, rev. 1962-63)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 6’30 (2’30 + 4′)

Unpublished

First performance: 10 February 1977 in Montreal, by Pierrette Le Page and Bruce Mather.

 




Opus 20a Étude en forme de scherzo (Etude in the Form of a Scherzo, 1931)

Piano in quarter-tones.

details

Playing time: 4’15

Unpublished




Opus 20b Étude en forme de scherzo (Etude in the Form of a Scherzo, 1932)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 4’15

Unpublished

First performance: 25 January 1937 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Ina Marika and Edward Staempfli.

 




Opus 21a Prélude et Fugue (Prelude and Fugue, 1932)

Piano in quarter-tones.

details

Unpublished




Opus 21b Prélude et Fugue (Prelude and Fugue, 1932)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 5′40 (1’40 + 4′)

Unpublished

First performance: 7 January 1977, Maison de la Radio, Paris, by Jean-François Heisser and Jean Koemer.

 

Although the quarter-tone system of Opus 22 was represented by a cycle of augmented fourths, here these same constitutions (fourths) take on the aspect of raw, massive material and anticipate the Wyschnegradskian system of a regular division of the sound space. In the ‘motor rhythm’ fugue where a linear beginning is quickly abandoned for fields of chords, the composer discretely plays on neo-Baroque body movements of his era and on Stravinsky rhythmic patterns. (Gottfried Eberle, notes from the double-LP released by Edition Block/Berlin – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 22a 24 Préludes (24 Preludes, 1934)

In all the tones of the chromatic scale diatonicized to 13 notes. Synthetic score with notation in quarter-tones.

details

Playing time: 42’30

Publisher: Belaïeff

 

Excerpt of the Preface of the 24 Preludes by Ivan Wyschnegradsky:
This work is composed in an ultrachromatic quartertone scale; that is in a pitch system containing 24 equidistant tones within an octave. It is written for two pianos tuned a quartertone apart. The first piano remains at the concert pitch, the second is tuned a quartertone lower.
New accidentals were invented to create a quartertone notation : (……)
However, because of the quartertone displacement of the two instruments, this notation was not necessary for the two-piano score. These accidentals are nevertheless applied to the two-stave transcription of the work, the purpose of which is to convey an overall image of the makeup of each prelude and which is edited separetely.
A vertically striped half-moon spanning an interval signifies a tone-cluster, indicating that the hand (held flat) is required to depress the white and the black keys together. Mezzo denotes a dynamic nuance between mp and mf
. (English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 22b 24 Préludes (24 Preludes, 1936 rev. 1958-60 and 1974-75)

In all the tones of the chromatic scale diatonicized to 13 notes, for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.








details

Playing time: 42’30

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performances:
– Excerpts: 25 January 1937, at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Ina Marika and Edward Staempfli, followed by numerous performances of excerpts in France, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Russia…
– The complete cycle: 11 December 1986, at Studio 200, Tokyo, by Henriette Puig-Roget and Kazuoki Fujii.

 

The first version of this work goes back to 1934. At that time, it was written in a very strict style, each Prelude containing only the 13 notes of its position. It was in this primitive form that some of them were performed before the war. In the 1960s-70s, I revised the near-totality of the Preludes, introducing ‘chromatic’ notes into them where the situation called for it. Some of them were even entirely recomposed. It is in this form the they are currently published.
I must specify that, despite the striking analogy with traditional diatonicism, I in no way consider diatonicized chromaticism a system meant to play a role analogous to what the diatonic system played in its time. For me at least, it was only a transitory step – very important, it is true – on the path that led me to the conception of cyclic or non-octaviating spaces (see my article ‘Ultra-chromatisme et Espaces non-octaviants’, La Revue Musicale, No.290-291; Paris 1972).

Ivan Wyschnegradsky, excerpt from the Preface to the edition of the 24 Préludes, Op. 22 (English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 23a Premier Fragment symphonique (First Symphonic Fragment, 1934/67)

For orchestra, 2 trp., 2 horns, 3 trb, 1 b trb. or tub, 2 perc, 2 pnos tuned a quarter-tone apart (4 pianists), strings (8-8-6-6-2) – (1934-35, rev. 1963 and ’67).

details

Playing time: 11′

Unpublished

First performances: 22 October 1988, in Graz (Austria) by the ORF Symphony Orchestra, Elgar Howarth conducting.




Opus 23b Premier Fragment symphonique (First Symphonic Fragment, 1934/67)

For four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart (1934 rev. 1953 and ’67).

details

Playing time: 11′

Publisher: Belaïeff, in 1936

First performances: 25 January 1937 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Monique Haas, Ina Marika, Edward Staempfli and Max Vredenburg, under the direction of the composer.

Followed by numerous performances in France, including 10 November 1945, at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Yvette Grimaud, Yvonne Loriod, Pierre Boulez and Serge Nigg, as well as in Belgium, Canada, Italy, Holland, Austria, Germany.

 

The work begins with a short exposition of a very rhythmic theme followed by a brief interlude that leads to a lilting theme. Both themes are written in a 13-note scale (including two leaps by quarter-tones in two different places) with constant modulations. Then comes a brief return to the initial rhythm, followed by a majestic interlude. After that, on the initial rhythm, the lilting theme returns, but this time outside any scale, by intervals of semi- and quarter-tones (3, 5 and 7 fourths, etc.). A progressive dynamic crescendo ends in ff, followed by an ‘Allegro energico’ based on the rhythmic theme. Return of the lilting theme (over sustained chords). A brief ‘Allegro marziale’, and the work ends with a rhythmic theme (in the 13-note scale) with superposition, in the upper register, of chords based on the second theme (lilting), also in the 13-note scale, but in other tones than the rhythmic theme (the relation there is always an augmented fourth) simultaneously the notes of B flat and E, for ex., a kind of quarter-tonal bi-tonality. José Bruyr (Le Guide du Concert, January 1937 – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 23c Premier Fragment symphonique (First Symphonic Fragment, 1934/67)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, four pianists (1958 rev. 67).

details

Playing time: 11′




Opus 24 Deuxième Fragment symphonique (Second Symphonic Fragment, 1937, rev. 1952 and ’53)

For four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart, plus percussion ad libitum.

details

Playing time: 13’30

Unpublished

First performance: 28 November 1951 in Paris, by Pierre Boulez, Yvette Grimaud, Claude Helffer and Ina Marika, Pierre Chailley conducting.

 




Opus 25 Linnite (1937)

Mimodrama in 1 act and 5 tableaux, for three women’s voices (2 sopranos, 1 alto), four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart, on a poem by Sophie Savitch-Wyschnegradsky, French translation by Ivan Wyschnegradsky.

details

Playing time: 13′

Unpublished

First performance: 10 November 1945, at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Gisèle Perron and Mady Sauvageot, sopranos, Lili Fabrègue, alto, Yvette Grimaud, Yvonne Loriod, Pierre Boulez and Serge Nigg, pianos, under the composer’s direction.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: ‘About 15 September 1945, I phone Messiaen and invite him to my home. On Thursday 27 September, he comes for dinner; after dinner Yvonne Loriod comes. They recommend the singer Mme Sauvageot to me and, as lecturer, Mr Bernard Delapierre. As second and third singers, I already have Mme Fabrègue and Mlle Talansier. Two days later, Messiaen and Loriod come for dinner at our home. She plays some of Messiaen’s Regards sur l’enfant Jésus on my piano. On 12 October, I receive a letter from Mlle Talansier who refuses to participate in the concert. Mme Sauvageot recommends Mme Peyron to me as third singer.’ (Note by Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 26 À Richard Wagner (To Richard Wagner, 1934, transcribed for two pianos in 1937)

For bass-baritone and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, on a poem by F. Nietzsche, Russian translation by E.K. Guerzyk.


details

Playing time: 4′

Unpublished

First performance: 28 March 1938, at the ‘Le Russe à l’étranger’ Musical Society, 26 Avenue de Tokio, Paris, by Michel Benois, baritone, Henri Cliquet-Pleyel and Iska Aribo, pianos.

 




Opus 27 Acte chorégraphique (Choreographic Act, 1937-40, rev. 1958-59)

In 2 parts with Prologue, Intermède and Epilogue for bass-baritone, 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, mixed chorus, four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart, percussion and instruments (viola, clarinet in C, balalaika ad libitum).


details

Playing time: 32′

Unpublished

First performance: 10 October 1999, at the Musikhochschule of Zurich, conducted by Dominik Blum.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky noted in his journal: ‘January 1937. I am experiencing great excitement. I’m beginning a work in ballet form with text (chorus and soloists). It will be entitled « Mystery of Identity », a danced action. It is the development of one of the three little « Mysteries » that were revealed to me in 1918. Later, this revised work would be called Acte chorégraphique.’ (Note by Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)




Opus 28 Cosmos (1939-40, rev. 1945)

For four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 15′

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performance: 10 November 1945, Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Yvette Grimaud, Yvonne Loriod, Pierre Boulez and Serge Nigg, under the composer’s direction; followed by several performances in Germany, France, Italy, Canada…

 

The score includes a considerable ‘Theoretical Preface ‘ by the composer, with the description of the 27 cycles used.
 

I saved the programme from the 10 November 1945 concert in the course of which, in a jam-packed Salle Chopin, were given four first performances by Ivan Wyschnegradsky – this by the devoted attention of a quartet of urchins, each aged barely twenty: Yvonne Loriod, Yvette Grimaud, Pierre Boulez and myself.
‘We had spent long days working under the direction of an author who looked like a prophet, visibly inspired by Heaven, and whose long arms, beating immutable quavers, pointed alternatively at each of us as if to denounce with a vengeful finger his melodic lines quartered between the four pianos.
‘But what joy finding ourselves as if immersed in the magical world of micro-intervals, unreal harmonies, in a fantastical atmosphere, an Ali-Baba’s cavern where diamonds, carbuncles and other precious sound gems glittered.
‘The letdown was hard the day after the concert, when we returned to the ordinary sound world, a bit commonplace and prosaic, of our good old 12-note scale of which the chromatic intervals seemed to us to flirt with gaping holes in which all enchantment had vanished
.’ (Serge Nigg – January 1985 for the programme of the 1st March 1985 concert, organized by the Association Ivan Wyschnegradsky in the large hall of the Centre Pompidou, Paris – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 29 Deux Chants russes (Two Russian Songs, 1940, 1941)

Bass-baritone and piano(s).
a) version for voice and one piano in quarter-tones
b) version for voice and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart
1) – Russie, poem by André Biely (1940) 2) – Notre marche, poem by V. Myakovsky (1941)


details

Playing time: 5’ (2’40, 2’20)

Unpublished

First performance: 1999 in Montreal (Canada), CD recorded by Michel Ducharme, bass-baritone, Pierrette Le Page and Bruce Mather, pianos.

 




Opus 30 Prélude et fugue (Prelude and Fugue, 1945)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of tone apart.


details

Playing time: 10’

Unpublished

First performance: 21 April 1983 at Salle Pollack, McGill University, Montreal, by François Couture, Paul Helmer and Louis-Philippe Pelletier, conducted by Bruce Mather.

 




Opus 31 Troisième Fragment symphonique (Third Symphonic Fragment, 1947, rev. 1964)

For four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart and percussion ad libitum.


details

Playing time: 12’

Unpublished

First performance: 7 January 1977, at the Maison de la Radio, Paris, by Sylvaine Billier, Martine Joste, Jean-François Heisser and Jean Koerner, conducted by Michel Decoust.

 

Stravinsky’s rhythms with the jerky accents of The Rite of Spring seem much more distinct in the first part of the work, but they are soon blurred by an expressive melody. Right in the middle of the central part and in the upper register a severe, archaic four-part chorale phrase suddenly appears in the traditional diatonic system. It enters into fascinating conflict with the modern world of quarter-tones: stylistic pluralism, as is found only in very young music. These multiple levels are finally condensed to form packets of massive chords. Gottfried Eberle (liner notes from the double-LP set released by Edition Block/Berlin – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 32 Deux Fugues (Two Fugues, 1950)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 8’35 (3’35 + 5′)

Unpublished

First performances:

– of the second fugue: 20 December 1954 at Le Tryptique concert, Ecole Normale, Paris, by Monique Matagne and Robert Cornman, pianos

– of the two fugues: 10 February 1977 in Montreal, by Pierrette Le Page and Bruce Mather

 




Opus 33 Cinq Variations sans thème et conclusion (Five Variations without theme and conclusion, 1952, rev. 1964)

For orchestra: 2 fl., 2 trp., 2 horns, 4 trb. (3 t., 1 b.), 2 perc, 2 pnos tuned a quarter-tone apart, strings (8-8-8-8-6).

details

Playing time: 15′

Unpublished

First performance: April 1964 in Strasbourg, by the Strasbourg Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Bruck.

 




Opus 34 Sonate en un mouvement (Sonata in one movement, 1945, rev. 1953)

For viola and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 10′

Unpublished

First performance: 17 February 1984 at the Hebbel Theater, Berlin, by Dietrich Gerhardt, viola, Klaus Billing and Catherine Framm, pianos.

 

Composed in 1945, but totally rewritten and completed in May 1953, this work belongs to the quarter-tone dimension.
From the shifting resonances of the opening adagio, curving figures emerge on the viola against a cameo of harmonic colour shimmering through the pianos. Then a silence, tinted by Piano II, yields to the allegro moderato, where the scoring for the pianos is based essentially on the simultaneous fluctuance of different planes of sound. lnnumerable mirrors produced by harmonies of fourths question the silence, from which arises a second sphinx (the traditional recapitulation), which this time goes through the mirror and is transcended in the light of the coda
. Solange Ancona, translated by Roger Greaves

 




Opus 35 Transparences I (Transparencies I, 1953)

For ondes Martenot and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 9′

Unpublished

First performance: 20 December 1954, in the Hall of the Ecole Normale, Paris, by Ginette Martenot, ondes, Monique Matagne and Robert Cornman, pianos.

 




Opus 36 Le mot (The Word, 1953, rev. 1973)

Soprano and piano in semitones.

details

Poem by Isabelle Rochereau de la Sablière

Playing time: 4′

Unpublished

First performance: 19 June 1980 at the Music Conservatory of Pantin, by students of Martine Joste: Josée Galmiche, soprano and Patrick Brosse, piano.

 




Opus 37 Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow, 1956)

Six pianos tuned a twelfth of a tone apart:
Piano 1: normal diapason. Piano 2: 1/12th tone higher. Piano 3: 1/6th tone higher. Piano 4: quarter-tone higher. Piano 5: 1/6th tone lower. Piano 6: 1/12th tone lower.




details

Playing time: 9′

Unpublished

First performance: Autumn 1988 in Graz (Austria), Steirischer Herbst, Christian Aigner, Janna Polyzoides, Isabelle Poncet, Elisabeth Schadler, Karl-Heinz Schuh, and Rita Solymar, pianos, conducted by Georg-Friedrich Haas.

 




Opus 38a Prélude pour piano (Prelude for piano, 1957, rev. 1964)

For piano in semitones.


details

In the catalogue established by Ivan Wyschnegradsky in 1976, this opus was entitled Two pieces for piano: 1 – Prelude; II – Elévation, composed respectively in 1957 and 1964. Also see Solitude of 1959, integrated into Opus 38.

Playing time: 4’30

Unpublished

First performance: 3 February 1980 in Berlin, by Sylvaine Billier.

 




Opus 38b Quatuor à cordes n° 3 en demi-tons (String Quartet No. 3 in semitones, 1945, rev.1958-59)


details

Playing time: 16’30

Unpublished

First performance: 17 March 1987 in Berlin, by the Arditti Quartet: Irvine Arditti, David Albermann, Levine Andrade and Rohan de Saram.

 

As the title suggests, the third string quartet is chromatic, containing no quartertones. lnstead Wyshnegradsky uses a changed idiom which has almost archaic propensities.
The single movement structure is similar to that of the second quartet: the same allegro material around a central slow section. Viewed in this way it would be quite plausible that, in the revision of 1958, the third quartet consists of only this one movement, forming, according to Wyshnegradsky’s aesthetics, a homogeneous process.
The second movement – also chromatic – is a solemn processional, an idea not otherwise found in Wyshnegradsky’s slow movements. This conscious allusion to an old musical tradition fits into the realm of the third quartet which, for its part, strikes a somewhat archaic note. This change of style must be understood as the direct result of the related tonal material. In its use of the diatonic the total chromaticism of the turn of the century often conjured up the ,,ldyll » – even though this was compromised or already passé – and likewise Wyshnegradsky associated a similar step in the contrast between the « ultrachromaticism » and the « normal » chromaticism
. Klaus Ebbeke (excerpt from CD Arditti String Quartet, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 




Opus 38c Quatrième Fragment symphonique (Fourth Symphonic Fragment, 1956)

For ondes Martenot and four pianos tuned two by two a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 12′

Unpublished

First performance: 8 January 1993, at Salle Pollack, Montreal: Concert ‘Homage to Ivan Wyschnegradsky ‘, with Pierrette Lepage, Paul Helmer, Marc Couroux, François Couture, pianos, and the Ensemble d’Ondes de Montréal, conducted by Bruce Mather.

 




Opus 39 Polyphonies spatiales (Spatial Polyphonies, April 1956)

For chamber orchestra: piano, harmonium, ondes Martenot, percussion, strings (6-6-6-6-4).

details

Playing time: 8′

Unpublished

First performance: 1980, Hilversum Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Ernest Bour.

 




Opus 39 bis Deux Études sur les densités et les volumes (Two Etudes on Densities and Volumes, 1956, rev. 1958)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: Etude I: 5′- Etude II: 4’30

Unpublished

First performances:

– of the second etude: 7 February 1984 at the Hebbel Theater, Berlin, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste, pianos.

– of the first etude: 28 February 1991, at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste.

 

Wyshnegradsky’s opus 39bis, composed in the summer of 1956, is an exercise in the ultrachromatic density of the 24 quarter-tones. The volume is that offered by the two pianos, i.e. almost the full extent of the two keyboards limited here to six and a quarter octaves. The movement of the piece is in three sections, the last of which returns to the opening tempo and attains full volume with maximum density. We witness a polyphonico-spatial movement starting in the medium and tiering into three variations of volumes and positions within the limits of the sound mass drawn into play. The aim is to manipulate sets of sounds captured in clusters rather than separate voices. Claude Ballif, translated by Heinrich Boffelhejm

 




Opus 40 Étude sur le carré magique sonore (Etude on the magic sound square, 1957, rev. 1970)

Piano in semitones.






details

Playing time: 9′

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performance: 8 April 1971 at the Royan Festival, by Marie-Elena Barrientos.

 

Wyschnegradsky definitively formulated his theory of cyclical tonal space with a regulated internal structure in 1952. The opus 40 is the first composition that strictly follows the rules of this theory. It is based on the Magic Square as it was found in the Roman catacombs.

SATOR
AREP0
TENET
OPERA
ROTAS

The same words are formed vertically downwards as horizontally left to right. Wyschnegradsky replaced the letters of the words with measures, in this case, six of them, the ends of which lead back to the beginning and which, when placed in canonic order, result in the structure of the Magic Square. The form of the Etude alternates between improvisation with the given elements and strict submission of these elements to the structure. If there ever was a case of musical cubism, this is it. Since the order within the tonal space approaches that of Messiaen’s scales, the resulting sound is also very similar. Messiaen even wrote a letter to Wyschnegradsky praising the « uncompromising organization », the « imaginative rhythms », and the « vicissitude of the form, so captivating and full of life. » Gottfried Eberle (LP disc Block, English Translation: Alice Dampmann)

 




Opus 41 Dialogue à deux (Dialogue for Two, 1958, rev. 1973)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 8′

Unpublished

First performance: 7 February 1984 at the Hebbel Theater, Berlin, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste.

 

This Dialogue lets us hear, by quarter-tone glissandi, figures starting from the low to the high registers in two crescendo bursts on harmonies by fourths and augmented fourths that draw ‘non-octaviating periodic spaces’, key to Wyschnegradsky’s harmonic system. After a first climax in a very broad range punctuated by a rest, a second section, with faster fusées, opposes the two pianos at a distance of major fourths and fifths over blends of harmonies by minor fourths and thirds. After a new rest, the last section brings together the two pianos whose figures are going to decelerate, oscillating by quarter-tones. A Coda on a pedal concludes fortissimo in a great resounding chord on the specific harmonic spaces that we have pointed out. Claude Ballif (programme of the concert of 1 March 1985, organized by the Association Ivan Wyschnegradsky in co-production with IRCAM, in the large hall of the Centre Pompidou in Paris – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 42 Étude ultrachromatique pour l’orgue tricesimoprimal du Pr. Adriaan Fokker (Ultrachromatic Etude for Prof. Adriaan Fokker’s tricesimoprimal organ, 1959)

Organ in 1/31st of an octave.


details

Playing time: 4’30

Unpublished

First performance: 13 February 1998, Amstelveen, Netherlands, by Joop van Goozen.




Opus 43 Composition pour quatuor à cordes (Composition for string quartet, 1960, rev. ’66-70)

In the quarter-tone scale.


details

Playing time: 4’40

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performance: 24 May 1966 in Lyons, by the Margand Quartet: Michèle Margand, Thérèse Rémy, Nicole Gendreau, Claudine Lasserre.

 

Ivan Wyshnegradsky’s opus 43, the Composition pour Quatuor à cordes dans l’échelle de quarts de ton was written in 1960 and is one of the few works to be published during the composer’s lifetime. Wyshnegradsky does not avoid the title « String Quartet » purely arbitrarily. Unlike the single movements of the first and third string quartets, which were so-called also by the composer himself, the Composition does not have an overall cyclic structure. The character of the movement is more reminiscent of a sonata-form allegro. The Composition draws its momentum from an opening iambic motif which obsessively dominates large sections. Thematic statements are hardly more than signal-like motifs – this seems to be a feature of the later works. OnIy a brief middle section shows a different character which, however, soon leads into a rhythmic transitional phase whence it procedes to a recapitulation of the opening with its faltering pulse.
Even here the quarter-tones are not merely an attribute of a harmonic realm which could otherwise perhaps be conceived in semitones. Instead Wyshnegradsky creates new scales and harmonies from the complete quartertone range with which he works as a matter of course. The final chord, more or less a semitone cluster e-g may be understood as an indication of the composer’s intention
. Klaus Ebbeke (excerpt from CD Arditti String Quartet, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 

 




Opus 44 Deux pièces (Two Pieces, 1958, rev. 1972)

a – Poème, for Julian Carrillo’s piano in sixths of tone
b – Etude, for Julian Carrillo’s piano in twelfths of tone

details

Playing time: 4’45 (3′ + 1’45)

Unpublished

First performances:
– 22 October 1986 in Graz (Austria), Georg Friedrich Haas performed the Etude Op. 44b on the synthesizer.
– 8 May 2002 in Mexico City, Martine Joste played the Etude Op. 44b on Julian Carrillo’s piano in twelfths of tone.

 

Opus 44 Deux pièces




Opus 45a Étude sur les mouvements rotatoires (Etude on the Rotary Movements, 1961, rev. 1963)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart (spring 1961)




details

Playing time: 7′

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performance: 18 May 1962 in the Hall of the Ecole Normale, Paris, by Hélène Boschi, Jean-Charles François, Claude Helffer and Monique Mercier, conducted by Robert Cornman, followed by numerous performances in France, Sweden, Canada, USA, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan…

 

Here we find a principle similar to that of the Magic Square – eight sets of intervals follow one another very closely, thus constructing a mobile octagon fluctuating up and down. The series of diminished fifths only reaches completion after thirteen octaves, far beyond the limitations of audible tonal space. The circling gestures are most noticeable at the beginning and at the end, where the wheel slowly comes to a standstill. The increasing density of the circles forms clusters and chord trills. Gottfried Eberle (LP disc Block, English Translation: Alice Dampmann)

 




Opus 45b Étude sur les mouvements rotatoires (Etude on the Rotary Movements, 1967)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of a tone apart, ondes Martenot and orchestra: 3 trp., 4 horns, 3 trb., 1 percussion, mixed chorus, strings (8-8-8-6) – (1967)

details

Playing time: 8′

Unpublished




Opus 45c Étude sur les mouvements rotatoires (Etude on the Rotary Movements, 1961/64)

For chamber orchestra: 2 pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart (4 pianists), 1 trp., 1 horn, 1 trb., 1 percussion, strings (6-6-4-4-2) – (1961/64)


details

Playing time: 7′

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performance: 6 April 1971, Paris, O.R.T.F. Chamber Orchestra, André Girard conducting.

 

This piece is remarkable for its alternation of order (symmetry) and relative disorder (break of simmetry). It is in five interconnected parts.
The first offers a regular movement on cyclic non-octaval intervals of the thirteenth régime. This regime implies leaps of 13 semitones from the minor ninth and 13 quarter-tones from the minor fifth. The balance is perfect when the cycles of this regime are perfect. It is imperfect when it undergoes distortion from quartertone slides. The pianos in the orchestral score have a cristalline role while the string support provides an echo surface. This movement has two subdivisions. The first includes four successive levels or stopovers, while the second joins up with the second part via a series of ritardandos and rallentandos.
The second part itself introduces the irregularities mentioned earlier in connexion with the semblance of disorder. The interconnexions are achieved by echoes. Trumpet, horn and trombone stress the separate levels – blurred by quarter-tone slides – which eventually come to rest on the form chord, as in Skryabin’s Prométhée, with many subtle variations of rhythm achieved by acceleration and deceleration. There is then a conclusion and a preparation for the third part.
This third part returns to the opening position of the first part. We in fact get a contrariwise reprise of the very start of the piece. A stepwise sequence descending diminuendo by downward quarter-tones leads via a short disintegration to the fourth part.
Whereas the third part was an ordered movement, here we reach the climax or agogic cadence, preceded by an initial cluster on the strings and finally the maximal chord with a huge fortissimo thesis sounding the form chord in its first position. Finally, the coda brings us an extremely serene pianissimo. Whereas Wyshnegradsky’s Carré magique functioned by disintegrations and integrations, here we get the opposite in the shape of coupled waves of sound.
Claude Ballif (CD 2e2m), translated by Heinrich Boffelheirn.

 




Opus 46a Composition I (summer 1961)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of a tone apart.


details

Playing time: 5′

Unpublished

First performance: 21 April 1983 at Salle Pollack, McGill University, Montreal, by Louis-Philippe Pelletier, Paul Helmer and François Couture, Bruce Mather conducting.

 




Opus 46b Composition II (1962)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 4′

Unpublished

First performance: 21 January 1978 at Radio France, Paris, ‘Ivan Wyschnegradsky Day’, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste.

 




Opus 47 Transparences II (Transparencies II, 1962-63)

For ondes Martenot and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 12′

Unpublished

First performance: 16 May 1981 in Bonn, in the framework of the Neue Tonsystem Instrumente Festival, by Tristan Murail, ondes, Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste, pianos.

 




Opus 48 Prélude et Étude (Prelude and Etude, 1966)

For Julian Carrillo’s piano in third of tone.




details

Playing time: 7′ (3′ + 4′)

Unpublished

First performance: 18 August 1972 in Munich, by Martine Joste.

 

The Mexican Julian Carrillo (1893-1965) demonstrated his micro-interval pianos in 1958 in the Salle Gaveau in Paris, which divided the whole step into any desired number of intervals from three to sixteen. Ferruccio Busoni had already developed a third tone system in 1906. The interesting thing about Carrillo’s instrument is the complete absence of the half-step. In opus 48 Wyschnegradsky contrasts a delicate, meditative Prelude with a hectic, screaming-siren-like Etude. Gottfried Eberle (LP disc Block, English Translation: Alice Dampmann)

 




Opus 49 Intégrations (Integrations, 1963, rev. April-May 1967)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.




details

Playing time: 9′ (4′ + 5′)

Unpublished

First performances:

– 2 November 1970 in Stockholm, Studio 2 of the National Radio House (performers?)

– 23 January 1975 in Montreal, by Pierrette Le Page and Bruce Mather

 

The two Intégrations, Op.49 for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, are perhaps some of Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s most representative works. They were composed in 1967 and, as a result, contain most of the fruits that his long research brought out. Here one finds, summarized and exploited in a purely musical approach, all the notions of which Ivan Wyschnegradsky was fond, of which the most important are: the principle of non-octaviating or cyclic spaces and the systematization of ultrachromatic scales. Philippe Leroux (beginning of a long analysis of the Intégrations in Premier Cahier Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Paris 1985 – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 50 L’Eternel Etranger (The Eternal Stranger, 1942/60)

Musical stage action in 5 episodes for four pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, percussion, soloists and mixed chorus, orchestration unfinished. Text by the composer.

details

Playing time: c. 60’

Unpublished

 





Opus 51 Dialogue à Trois (Dialogue for Three, 1973-74)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of a tone apart.


details

Playing time: 4′

Unpublished

First performance: 21 April 1983, Salle Pollack, McGill University, Montreal, by François Couture, Paul Helmer and Louis-Philippe Pelletier, Bruce Mather conducting

 




Opus 51b Symphonie en un mouvement (Symphony in One Movement, 1969)

For large orchestra: 1 fl., 1 ob., 1 clar., 1 bsn., 2 trp., 2 horns, 4 trb. (3 t., 1 cb.), 2 pnos tuned a quarter-tone apart (4 pianists), 3 ondes Martenot, 2 perc., strings (8-8-8-8-6).

details

Playing time: 10′

Unpublished

 




Opus 52 Composition pour quatuor d’ondes Martenot (Composition for ondes Martenot quartet, 1963)

For 4 ondes Martenot or 2 pianos and ondes.


details

Playing time: 6′

Unpublished

First performance: 18 January 1993, Salle Pollack, Montreal, Concert in homage of Ivan Wyschnegradsky, with Pierrette Lepage, Paul Helmer, Marc Couroux, François Couture, pianos, the Ensemble d’Ondes de Montréal, Bruce Mather conducting.

 

Opus 52 Composition pour quatuor d'ondes Martenot




Opus 52a Arc-en-ciel II (Rainbow II, 1956-58)

Six pianos tuned a twelfth of a tone apart, unfinished work.


details

Unpublished

 




Opus 53 Trio à cordes (String Trio, 1978-79)

Revised and completed by Claude Ballif based on Composition for Three ondes Martenot.


details

Playing time: 11′

Unpublished

First performance: 16 March 1981, Maison de Radio France, Paris, by the Nouveau Trio Pasquier.

 

This string trio was commissioned by the UER (European Radio Union) in 1978. Begun that year, the composer left only this first movement, finished in the early summer of ’79. It was the last work by this Russian musician who had emigrated to France in 1922, a friend of Hába and Juan Carrillo. This movement, with a playing time of 11 minutes, is worth a book all by itself. Written for violin, viola and cello, it is constructed as a perpetual variation whose graceful curve follows a double evolution forming a large arc all in one piece. It is still unknown whether the composer truly wanted to stop there or add other movements as he had done for his famous Intégrations, Op. 49 for two quarter-tone pianos of which the melodic research is related to this trio.
Without going into detail in these (see
La Revue Musicale, no. 290-91), the listener is fascinated by the restricted means and singular charm of this ‘economy’ that make this trio a pure masterpiece of writing in density 24 (24 quarter-tones). Great lyrical, generous phrasing takes its source from a unison to soar into the two non-octaviating spaces (dilated octave 25, contracted octave 23) relayed by tritone and minor fifth on the one hand and by the perfect fourth and minor fifth on the other. These two spaces fit into each other, open and close over all the registers of the instruments up to the very end. Claude Ballif (programme of the concert 1 March 1985, organized by the Association Ivan Wyschnegradsky in co-production with IRCAM, in the large hall of the Centre Pompidou, Paris – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Affirmation du Paradoxe Ethique (Affirmation of the Ethical Paradox, 194?-5?)

For 2 baritones, ondes Martenot and 6 pianos tuned a quarter-tone, a sixth of a tone and a twelfth of a tone apart.

details

Text by Ivan Wyschnegradsky

Playing time: ?

Unpublished

 




Andante religioso et funèbre (March 1912)

Score lost.

details

Unpublished

First performance: May 1912 at the Pavlovsk Theatre, Saint Petersburg, conducted by Aslanov – April 1913, second performance at the Pavlovsk Theatre.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: ‘March 1912: I wrote and orchestrated Andante religioso et funèbre. I showed it to Sokolov who offered to play it at the Pavlovsk. 22 April, I’m 19. May. Performance of the Andante at the Pavlovsk, conducted by Aslanov in the presence of Cui. After the concert, I met him. He congratulated me on my moderation. April 1913: At the Pavlovsk, second public performance of my Andante.’ (Note by Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)




Ballade (1912)

Score lost.

details

First performance: 13 July 1913 (or 30 June 1913, old calendar) at the Pavlovsk Theatre, Saint Petersburg.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: ‘September 1912: With Sokolov, I’m studying fugue and practicing orchestration. I orchestrated the Ballade and showed it to Sokolov. 30 June 1913: First public performance of my Ballade at the Pavlovsk. 3 August 1916: performance of the Ballade in Yalta, conducted by Orlov. I went.’ (Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)




Chant funèbre (Trauer Gesang /Funeral Song, 1922)

Piano in quarter-tones.

details

Playing time: 4’

First performance: 29 November 1993 in Prague, by Vojtěch Spurný on the quarter-tone piano by the August Forster Co.

 




Deux Méditations (Two Meditations, 194?-5?)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of a tone apart.

details

Playing time: I : 3’15 – II : 2’

Unpublished

 




Deux pièces (Two Pieces, 1934)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: I: 6’15 – II: 3’15

Unpublished

First performance: 25 January 1937 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Ina Marika and Edward Staempfli

 




Di-Ra-Te-Lo-Tu (1918)

Piece for the black keys of piano according to Nikolai Obukhov’s notation.

details

Playing time: 1’40

Unpublished

 




Dialogue (1959)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, 4 pianists.


details

Playing time: 15′

Unpublished

First performance: 28 February 1991 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Sylvaine Billier, Martine Joste, Gérard Frémy and Yves Rault.

 

This further « dialogue » is performed here on two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart played by four pianists. Wyshnegradsky had already written to the same principle of exchanges and echoes a dialogue for two pianos and two pianists (op. 41) and a Dialogue à Trois for three pianos tuned a sixth apart.
This dialogue is remarkable for its conceptual sobriety (cyclic non-octaval intervals of the eleventh regime, i.e. eleven quarter-tones and eleven semitones) and the clarity of the intentions on which the form of the piece is based.
An introduction states mezzo-forte on Piano I, at normal pitch, the eleventh-regime set form (e.g. B, F, Bb, E, A, Eb and so on). Piano II restates the same crisscross set 11 quarter-tones apart, so that B, F and Bb are divided equi-distantly by B E-half#, B D-threequarter# and so on. This is the basis of Wyshnegradsky’s harmonic system as set out in La Revue musicale n° 290-291. The effect of this introduction is to plunge the listener into a serenely grandiose meditation. It has two short sections.
Now the piece can truly begin. It falls into three broad parts of equal duration. The first has five sections and alternates a homorhythmic dialogue of arpeggios and chords with eleven-semitone leaps. The second part returns to the initial tempo (116 = quaver) and is preceded by a point d’orgue. It superimposes triplet patterns on a steady quaver pattern. Pedal motifs are frequent. It is subdivided into five sections corresponding to the numbers in the score. These sections start or end on single sounds functioning as pivots: over D-half#, D-halfb – over a low B forte and ultimately D natural forte. This second part moves to forte and fortissimo via a dialogue of fusées (« rockets ») and contrasting static chords.
The third part plays on register. It is divided into four sections plus a greatly subdued homorhythmic coda which stresses the spectral aspects of the binary-cum-quaternary division of non-octaval intervals familiar to the adepts of Wyshnegradsky’s quasi-ecstatic style
. Claude Ballif (CD 2e2m, translated by Heinrich Boffelheim)

 




Elégie (Elegy, 1915)

Score lost.

details

Unpublished

First performance: 4 June 1918, at the Pavlovsk Theatre, Saint Petersburg, conducted by Nikolai Malko.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: ‘November 1915: I am composing and orchestrating an elegy (short work). 4 June 1918: performance of my Elégie at the Pavlovsk, under the direction of Malko.’ (Note by Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)




Elévation, à la mémoire de N. Obouhov (Elevation in Memory of N. Obukhov, 1964)

Piano in semitones.

details

Became the second of the Three Pieces, Op. 38

Unpublished

First performance: 28 August 2004, Kunnersdorf (Görlitz), Germany, Christoph Staude, piano.

 




Etude sur le Prologue à l’Eternel Etranger (Etude on the Prologue to The Eternal Stranger, 1964)

For large orchestra: 2 clar., 2 horns, 4 trb., 2 perc., 2 pnos tuned a quarter-tone apart, strings (8-8-8-8-6).

details

Playing time: 6’

Unpublished

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: ‘April 1942: I’ve gone back to working on the Mystère de l’incarnation, which will later be l’Eternel Etranger. September 1942:I am getting down to composing Le Mystère de l’incarnation. I’m revising the first tableau and writing the third. Nonetheless, work is going badly. Artificial efforts and the feeling that I’m not on the right track. I’m dissatisfied with the result. The first tableau is not completely clear. In the third, there are gaps.’ (note by Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Fugue pour deux pianos (Fugue for two pianos, 1939)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: ??

Unpublished




La Journée de l’Existence (The Day of Existence, 1916-17, revised in 1929-30 then in 1939-40)

For narrator, large orchestra and mixed chorus ad libitum.


details

Text by the composer

Playing time: 55′

First performance: 21 January 1978 at the Maison de Radio France, Paris, by Mario Haniotis, narrator, and the Nouvel Orchestra Philharmonique, conducted by Alexandre Myrat.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky had to wait sixty years to hear the first performance of his masterwork, La Journée de l’Existence, which he had conceived and composed beginning in 1916 in Saint Petersburg. And we have had to wait another thirty years to have it on disc and be able to listen to it as we please. This is also the outcome of twenty-five years of work within the Association Ivan Wyschnegradsky, founded in 1983 under the chairmanship of Claude Ballif.
The emotion was tremendous the evening of the premiere, which took place in the Large Auditorium of Radio-France. Listeners were swept away by the work’s intensity, the conviction and dramatic power of the narrator, Mario Haniotis, and the presence of the composer, who, in the dusk of his life, had come to attend the realization of the score conceived in his youth in a moment of illumination and exaltation. We’ve corne full circle, and miraculously, the emotion of the premiere is fully intact on the disc.
This work in itself is a veritable alchemy of speech and sound.
The text was written and revised several times, the earliest versions, titled La Journée de Brahmâ (The Day of Brahmâ), being written in Russian then in French, in all likelihood beginning in 1927. Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s archives, left to the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basle, show that the composer continued to revise and transform this poem up until the year following the first performance, and that on the very copy of the concert programme, so it was indeed a ‘work in progress’ that accompanied him throughout his life.
As with most of his works, Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote several versions of La Journée de l’Existence, including one with chorus
ad libitum. Martine Joste (excerpt booklet CD Shiiin – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




La Procession de la Vie (The Procession of Life, 1917)

Narrator and piano.

details

Text by Ivan Wyschnegradsky? French translation by the composer

Playing time: ??

Unpublished




Œuvre sans titre (Untitled work, 1945?)

Four pianos tuned a quarter-tone and a sixth of a tone apart.
Score reconstructed by Bruce Mather based on the separate parts.

details

Unpublished

 




Œuvre sans titre (Untitled work, 1965)

For large orchestra: 2 cl., 2 trp., 2 horns, 2 trb., 2 pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart (4 pianists), 2 perc., strings (8-8-8-8-4).

details

Unpublished




Ombres (Shadows, 1916, reconstructed from memory in 1948)

Piano in semitones.

details

Unpublished




Poème (Poem, 1937)

For two pianos in quarter-tones.

details

Playing time: 9’30

Unpublished

First performance: 5 March 1938 at the Société Nationale de Musique, hall of the Ecole Normale, Paris, by Henry Cliquet-Pleyel and Iska Aribo.

 




Poème dramatique (Dramatic Poem, 1913)

For orchestra. Score lost.

details

Unpublished

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: ‘June 1913: I am working on the theory of enharmonic scales and beginning to write works. I’m thinking of the Poème dramatique. Then, further on: I am working at the piano and have begun composing the Poème dramatique. October 1913: I showed the Poème dramatique to Sokolov and orchestrated it under his supervision. March 1914: Rehearsal of the Poème dramatique in the orchestral version, conducted by Varlich. I attend with Elatchich and his wife who smokes.’ (Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)




Poème dramatique n°2 (Dramatic Poem No.2, 1915)

For orchestra. Score lost.

details

Unpublished

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal: ‘May 1914: I am thinking of a second poème dramatique (first part of a symphony). June/July 1915: I am writing the second poème dramatique. September 1915: I am finishing the orchestration of the second poème dramatique.’ (Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)




Solitude (1959)

Piano solo in semitones.

details

Became the third of the Three pieces, Op. 38

Playing time: 4’20

Unpublished

First performance: 28 August 2004, Kunnersdorf (Görlitz), Germany, Christoph Staude, piano.

 




Trois Epigrammes (Three Epigrams, 1923)

Piano in quarter-tones. See Quatre Epigrammes, Humoresque.

details

Playing time: I and II, c. 5’

Unpublished

First performance: 29 November 1993, in Prague, by Vojtěch Spurný on the piano in quarter-tones of the August Forster Co.

 

Ivan Wyschnegradsky wrote in his journal:’ July 1923: I am writing a piece for violin and piano in quarter-tones [later destroyed] and 2 etudes for piano in quarter-tones (later, with the Humoresque, they will make up the 3 Epigrammes for piano in quarter-tones, of which the sole copy, on the advice of R. Petit, was sent in 1927 to Hába to be played on the piano in quarter-tones and that he will never return to me). Then later, January 1927: I learn that Hába is going to introduce the quarter-tone piano in Paris. Following the advice of R. Petit, I’m sending him my music to be played at this concert (Chant funèbre, 6 Etudes sur la note do, 3 épigrammes). Not only will it not be played, but I will never see my music again (except for the 1st, the former humoresque that will now become a capriccio).’ (Note by Franck Jedrzejewski – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Une pièce – Ein Stück (A Piece, 1927?)

For piano in quarter-tones.

details

Unpublished

First performance: 29 November 1993 in Prague, by Vojtěch Spurný on the quarter-tone piano by the August Forster Co.

 

Score in 2 colours, Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s sole attempt at this type of writing in quarter-tones. This score, in red and black, was found in very poor condition in 1992 by the Czech composer and musicologist Martin Smolka amongst Alois Hába’s archives in Prague. See the note from Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s journal for the Three Epigrammes.




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