Piano Duet - Advanced - Digital Download
Composed by Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983). 20th Century, Neo-Classical, Repertoire, Recital. Score. 65 pages. Published by Musik Fabrik (S0.365575).
Item Number: S0.365575
This work was written in the first months of 1942 while Tailleferre was living in Grasse, in the socolled
« Free Zone » of occupied France during the Second World War and was completed just as
Tailleferre was forced to flee France with her daughter. As the wife of Jean Lageat, who had been the
secretary of the French socialist Léon Blum during the « Front Populaire » period just before the War
and who was at that time in the US working against the Vichy Government, and as someone who was
not unvocal about her political views, this could not have been a comfortable situation. Tailleferre left a
record of what she experienced during this period in an article written for the American music journal «
Modern Music » which she wrote shortly after arriving in America in the Spring of 1942 :
« Notwithstanding their staunch spirit of resistence, the people under German rule today are
increasingly bowed down under their burdens. By achieving the physical decline of the French, the
Nazis hope that spiritual collapse will ensue. However, after two years of quasi-famine, France remains
pround and great, although the necessity of liberation grows daily more urgent.....For an artist to work
under these conditions is almost impossible. The mere effort of subsisting wastes time and absorbs
energy ; The means to work are also lacking.....Musical composition is made practically impossible
through lack of music paper. For more than a year, I sought in vain to find paper in Lyon, Marseilles
and Nice on which to copy an orchestral score...Two years of experience under German rule have
taught me that all expressions of pride, dignity, spirit , aspiration of the human will can be made only
claudestinely. It is a historical truth that the human mind makes its greatest progress under freedom ».
Under such circumstances, it is a miracle that this work exists at all. The three movement work was
dedicated to the famous Marguerite Long, for whom Tailleferre had already written several short works
for piano solo, and François Lang, a pianist who was closely linked with the Group des Six and who
had performed in the première of the 1934 Concerto Grosso for Two Pianos, 8 Solo Voices, Saxophone
Quartet and Orchestra and for whom Tailleferre wrote two cadenzas for concerti by Mozart and Haydn.
The work opens with sunny, optimistism in a mood similar to the opening movement of the Concerto
Grosso, but quickly the mood changes to more dramatic themes. The second movement seems to
subjectively express a rupture with the past and a tragic melancholy. The final third movement is
extremely dramatic and almost frightening with it’s force.
When Tailleferre left France in the Spring of 1942, having been warned by a neighbor that she was
going to be arrested if she didn’t leave immediately, she left the score in a two-piano version, probably
due to the fact that there was no music paper to be had to copy the score. When she returned to France
in 1946, she learned that François Lang had been deported to Auschwitz where he died. Musical life in
France had been completely changed by the War years. Tailleferre put the work aside and forgot about
it, perhaps wanting to forget the hardships that she had lived through and the loss of many of her friends
associated with these years.
Tailleferre's version for two pianos is published by Musik Fabrik and the work may be performed in
that version. It is clear however, that the work was intended to be orchestrated and the editors hope that
the present orchestration will allow the work to finally be presented as Tailleferre conceived during
some of the darkest years of the Twentieth century.
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