Malinconia Militare

for piano quartet

Erika Fox

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for piano quartet

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Composer Erika Fox
Year of Composition 2003
Duration ca.15'
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-ef1mm1


Commissioned for the Leamington Festival and performed by Chamber Domaine in May 2003 and at Bromsgrove in November 2004.

“This piano quartet was inspired by a poem called ‘Webern Opus 4’ by the Italian poet Amelia Rosselli. (Rosselli was a very musical poet. Indeed she studied music and was particularly interested in the Second Viennese School). I first came across her work when reading her obituary, written by her friend and translator Emmanuela Tandello. What particularly struck me was Rosselli’s poignant expression of inner conflict. Her poems are tense, with violence and lyricism presented together as an integral part of the whole structure. As my own work has always embraced the juxtaposition of opposites I was drawn to this quality and hoped perhaps one day to set some of her words. Rosselli’s poetic response to the beautiful Opus 4 songs by Webern is full of conflicting emotions; a kind of frenzied hurtling into the unknown (perhaps death), propelled but at the same time held back by the slow beat of the music. Like the great Italian writer, chemist and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi before her, Rosselli committed suicide late in life, being perhaps unable to erase memories. At the time I was composing this piece the war in Iraq was taking place, hence the title; Malinconia Militare (military melancholy). It is in four short movements; the first is a kind of introduction to the prevailing mood, the second an almost relentless frenzy. The third is very dark and juxtaposes contrasting and seemingly unrelated elements and the final movement, called ‘poem’, intersperses these ideas with a chorale-like melody, which is in almost exact rhythmic unison with the poem that gives the work its title.”