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Gunther Schuller

Publisher: AMP

Symbiosis (1957)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
Mixed Ensemble
Year Composed
18 Minutes

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Score and Part(s) Score and Part(s)

Programme Note
Gunther Schuller Symbiosis (1957)
Commissioned by: Maria and Joseph Malfitano
World Premiere: October 6, 1957

Composer Note:
Music for Violin, Piano and Percussion (Symbiosis), a dance piece with a composed, written-out dance part, was composed in 1957. Its performance took place in Carnegie Hall in New York with Joseph Malfitano (violin), Paul Kueter (piano), Walter Rosenberger (percussion) and Maria Maslova (dancer), with the composer conducting. (The work can be and is frequently performed without dancer.)

The work is in four movements, of which the first and last two are played without interruption, in the latter instance connected by a transitional Interlude for solo percussion. The opening sounds—sparse and delicate—arise out of silence, embryonic and tentative in character. Gradually greater density and range of texture are achieved. In the latter half of this brief introductory movement, pointillistic sections alternate with passionate harmonic outbursts, the former eventually succumbing to the latter.

In the second movement the lyric qualities of all three instruments, including the percussion and vibraphone are explored. A stately, quiet march-like dance for cymbals and tomtoms leads to a brief percussion cadenza and in turn a tranquil, gently sustained Coda.

The third movement, in contrast to the lyric/melodic second movement, exploits the rhythmic potentialities of al three instruments: piano used staccato and percussively, violin employing much pizzicato, col legno battuto (struck sharply with the wood of the bow).

— Gunther Schuller

  • Soloist(s)
    Walter Rosenberger (Percussion), Maro Ajemian (Piano), Anahid Ajemian (Violin)
    GM Recordings:
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