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Aulis Sallinen

Publisher: Novello & Co

Chamber Concerto (2005)
commissioned by the Tapiola Sinfonietta
Novello & Co Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
24 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Violin, Piano
Programme Note
Aulis Sallinen Chamber Concerto (2005)
This work, commissioned by Tapiola Sinfonietta, was composed in 2004-2005. Its artistic “godparents” were Elina Vähälä and Ralf Gothoni who, from the very beginning, were intended to give the world premiere.

In the beginning of the composition period, the composer read the then recently published novel “Suite Française” (French suite). The book was written by Irène Nemirovsky, who was born in 1903 in Kiev and whose family ended up in France in 1918, having fled the Revolution. In the 1930s, when anti-Semitism was raising its head, the family turned to Catholicism.

In the 1940s, Irène Nemirovsky, who had already gained some celebrity as author, started a huge work – the above mentioned novel – which she had planned to become an epic of 1,000 pages. The first two finished chapters of the book describe the German occupation in France. Irène Nemirovsky uses lots of musical terms in her remaining notes, written when she already then suspected that she wouldn’t have enough time to finish the whole novel.

Her intuition proved to be shockingly right. She was arrested in July 1942 and murdered at the Auschwitz death camp. Her husband shared the same destiny a couple of months later. By a miracle, the two children of the couple survived with the help of some friends who hid them from the Nazi “killing machine”. The eldest of the daughters carried along her mother’s remaining belongings and it was only recently, 60 years after the novel was written, that the manuscript came to light and was published.

Two movements of the Chamber Concerto have been named after the chapters of the novel: “Tempête en juin” (“Storm in June”) and “Dolce” (“sweetly” – a musical term). The use of these names can be considered as documentation related to the reading of the novel, and no correspondence between the novel and the music should thus be searched for. The composer has named the third movement, which follows the second without break, “Epigraphe fragile” (“Fragile epigraph”). It can be understood as being related to Irène Nemirovsky’s destiny. Just as a magnifying glass can transform millions of sun rays to a painfully burning point, the destiny of a sole author can here represent the memory of millions of victims that have died without a reason.

Aulis Sallinen

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