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Violin concerto (violin with full orchestra)

by Bozidar Kos (1986)

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Performance by Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Dene Olding, Gunther Schuller from the CD Forbidden colours

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Forbidden colours


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Forbidden colours : orchestral music by Smalley, Formosa, Brophy & Kos.

Library shelf no. CD 249 [Available for loan]

Violin concerto


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Violin concerto / Bozidar Kos.

Library shelf no. Q 784.272186/KOS 1 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

The Violin Concerto, although written as a single continuous piece of music, is divided into three distinct sections that represent the traditional three-movement pattern, fast-slow-fast.

The first section, particularly the solo violin line, is coloured by additive asymmetrical, dance-like rhythmic patterns and by melodic/intervallic structures that are characteristic of folk music from many South-East European, Asian and African countries. It begins with an introduction in which the solo violin plays short melodic fragments, placed within a small pitch range and based on quarter-tones. As the proper first section begins, the tessitura of the musical material gradually expands and the smallest interval is changed from the quarter-tone to a semitone. The total musical space available (approximately 7 octaves of equally tempered semitones) is here 'flaked' into seven possible transpositional layers (each of approximately 6 and a half octaves in range) of a new musical space, created by a special interlocking process of three diminished seventh chords. All melodic and harmonic material played in this section is then mapped onto these seven transpositions of the new musical space. As a result of this process, the intervals of a minor third and a semitone become the predominant intervals, colouring the melodic and harmonic structures in this section. The soloist becomes engaged in a dialogue with various orchestral groups, which in turn play extremely intertwining textures, sounding thus often more like groups of soloists than like compact orchestral section. Woodwind instruments have also a double role here. They articulate the shifts from one transpositional plateau of musical space onto another and at the same time participate with the rest of the orchestra in a dialogue with the soloist. This dialectic between the soloist and the orchestra adds to the direction of the music and gives it a constant drive forward. At the end of the first section the soloist recapitulates the material played in the introduction, which here becomes based on chromatic (semi-tonal) rather than on quarter-tonal material.

The second, contrasting slow section is based on a different type of musical space. Melodic and harmonic pitch structures are here mapped onto a space based on the harmonic (overtone) series , resulting in more harmonious vertical relationships. The solo line becomes totally entwined with sounds that are all in perfect harmonic relationship with each other. Theoretically speaking, this should represent a section of repose and harmonious co-existence, but at the same time presents the orchestra with the greatest challenge. The orchestral players, who are educated primarily to play pitches based on our Western tempered system, must adjust micro-tonally many notes they play, particularly the ones associated with such harmonics as the 7th, 11th, 13th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, etc., which sound 'out of tune' to our ears, accustomed to the tempered semi-tonal system.

The third and the quickest section returns to the application of a similar space as the first section and exploits, particularly in the first half, the repeated note motive that has appeared as part of various melodic shapes in the previous two movements. Following a massive orchestral climax, the solo violin bursts suddenly into furioso, glissando-like lines based on quarter-tones.

Work Details

Year: 1986

Instrumentation: Solo violin, 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 3 oboes, 3 clarinets in B flat, 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contra-bassoon), 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, percussion, celesta, harp, piano, strings (12.10-

Duration: 21 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional.

Contents note: One continuous movement (3 sections).

Dedication note: Dedicated to Jan Sedivka

Commission note: Commissioned by Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music with funds provided by Australia Council. Music Board.


Performances of this work

27 Jun 90: ABC Ferry Road Studio, Brisbane.. Featuring Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Dene Olding, Gunther Schuller.

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