Capriccio Espagnole (tr Neffs)

From Wind Repertory Project
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (trans. Jacco Nefs)

This work bears the designation Opus 34.

General Info

Year: 1887 / 2015
Duration: c. 16:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Solo violin
Publisher: Jacco Nefs
Cost: Score and Parts - $240.00

Movements (played without pause)

1. Alborada
2. Variazoni
3. Alborada
4. Scena e Canto Gitano
5. Fandango Asturiano


Full Score
C Piccolo
Solo Flute I-II
Flute tutti
Oboe I-II (II doubles English Horn)
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
Solo B-flat Clarinet I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet (optional)
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Solo B-flat Trumpet I-II
B-flat Trumpet tutti
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Castanets
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle

Cello (optional)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In an era of nationalism -- which paradoxically meant an interest in depicting “others” as much as one’s own people -- the French were hardly the only ones fascinated with Spain. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kaprichchio na ispanskiye temï (Capriccio on Spanish Themes) began life as a work for solo violin which, in the tradition of the Italian capriccio, would have allowed the soloist to demonstrate their skill and fancy with a series of unique, original effects. The concertmaster (in the transcription the first solo clarinet) still does have a few solo turns, but in the final version, Rimsky-Korsakov lets the whole orchestra contribute their special effects to recreating the Spanish countryside. In the alboradas (dawn songs) of the first and third movements, we hear the promise of heat later in the day. Often these were performed on bagpipes with a hand drum as accompaniment, so each of the blistering solos by the solo clarinet unfold over a punctuated drone (the drone of the bagpipes) with tambourine and snare drum omnipresent in the tutti sections. The fourth movement, Scena e canto gitano, returns to the fascination with gypsies, most closely associated with Spain despite their itinerant lifestyle. Rimsky-Korsakov then turns to the fandango -- the most widespread of the Spanish dances -- for his finale. Every section of the orchestra takes its turn leading the dance famous (or infamous) for its sensuality before finishing in a riotous whirl of colors.

Capriccio espagnol comes at the end of a period in Rimsky-Korsakov’s creative life that was marked by the study and perfection of orchestration. He felt that he had achieved a high degree of virtuosity free of Wagner’s influence and well within the capabilities of the standard Russian orchestra. Regarding the Capriccio, the composer wrote in his diary, “According to my plans, [it] was to glitter with dazzling orchestral color!” The first performance on October 31, 1887, with the St. Petersburg Opera Orchestra, was a success even before the first public hearing, owing to the musicians’ enthusiasm at the rehearsals. Out of gratitude, Rimsky-Korsakov dedicated the work to the orchestra.

The work is in five movements to be played without pause:

I. An albarada, a type of morning serenade begins with a brilliant outburst in the full orchestra and ends with quiet arpeggios in the solo violin.

II. A set of five variations on a theme introduced by the horn quartet ends with rapid chromatic scales in the solo flute.

III. A version of the opening albarada in a different key with a clarinet in place of the violin at the end.

IV. A Scene and Gypsy Song introduced by virtuoso cadenzas in the horns and trumpets, violin, flute, clarinet, and harp. The gypsy song that follows is combined with fragments from the cadenzas.

V. A fandango (a type of Andalusian dance) in the full orchestra is followed by the opening albarado functioning as a coda to the entire work.

- Program Note by Katherine Baber and Jacco Nefs

Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34, is the common Western title for a five movement orchestral suite, based on Spanish folk melodies, composed by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1887. Rimsky-Korsakov originally intended to write the work for a solo violin with orchestra, but later decided that a purely orchestral work would do better justice to the lively melodies.

The work has five movements, divided into two parts comprising the first three and the latter two movements respectively. The first movement, Alborada, is a festive and exciting dance, typically from traditional Asturian music to celebrate the rising of the sun. It features the clarinet with two solos, and later features a solo violin with a solo similar to the clarinet's. The second movement, Variazioni, begins with a melody in the horn section. Variations of this melody are then repeated by other instruments and sections of the orchestra.

The third movement, Alborada, presents the same Asturian dance as the first movement. The two movements are nearly identical, in fact, except that this movement has a different instrumentation and key. The fourth movement, Scena e canto gitano (Scene and Gypsy Song) opens with five cadenzas — first by the horns and trumpets, then solo violin, flute, clarinet, and harp — played over rolls on various percussion instruments. It is then followed by a dance in triple time leading attacca into the final movement.

The fifth and final movement, Fandango Asturiano, is also an energetic dance from the Asturias region of northern Spain. The piece ends with an even more rousing statement of the Alborada theme. A complete performance of the Capriccio takes around 16 minutes.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Royal Wind Orchestra KHC van 1839 Hilvarenbeek (The Netherlands) (Arno Schipdam, conductor) - 21 October 2018
  • Dallas (Tex.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 16 January 2018
  • Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy (Sander Teepen, conductor) - 16 December 2016
  • Royal Wind Orchestra Phileutonia Eindhoven (The Netherlands) (Sander Teepen, conductor) - 3 March 2015
  • Wind Band NLS Klaaswaal (The Netherlands) (Michael Engelbrecht, conductor) - 9 December 2012

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