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Dionysiaques

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Florent Schmitt

Florent Schmitt


The work bears the designation Opus 62, No. 1.


General Info

Year: 1913
Duration: c. 10:10
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Durand
Cost: Score and Parts - Out of print


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo I-II
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn (optional)
Bassoon I-II (optional)
Contrabass Sarrusaphone in C (optional)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II (optional)
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (optional)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone (optional)
C Trumpet I-II
B-flat Cornet I-II-II-IV
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Alto Horn in E-flat I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
E-flat Piccolo Bugle
B-flat Bugles A
B-flat Bugles B
B-flat Baritone Horns
Euphoniums
B-flat Bass Tubas
B-flat Contrabass Tubas
String Bass
Celesta (optional)
Timpani
Percussion (four players) including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Castanets
  • Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel (optional)
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-tam
  • Tenor Drum
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone (optional)


Errata

  • Cornet II, meas. 70: 3rd note: E natural, not E-flat
  • Trombone III, meas. 105: 2nd and 3rd notes: D-flat, not D natural


Program Notes

Dionysiaques for Band, Op. 62, No. 1 was composed in 1913. The title relates to the festivals held in ancient Greece to celebrate Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, drama, and other enjoyable things. The composition is very descriptive, beginning the celebration very sensuously, in the lower brasses and winds, with a more yearning theme in the upper voices. It becomes much busier as the celebration begins to “heat up”. Schmitt uses short bursts of highly chromatic material to allude to the sense of unpredictability that is often associated with such alcohol-induced celebrations. After awhile, the first of a series of jaunty, march-like party themes begins. Schmitt’s writing here can be rather difficult for any wind band, with quick unison trills, gigantic leaps, and alternating tempos. At times, the celebration seems to be calming down, and just before the end of the piece the music comes almost to a complete halt, but of course Schmitt has reserved the biggest climax of all for the end.

Just listening to this composition will help you to understand its complexities and difficulties in performance. It requires great technical skill and musical acuity. When you completely immerse yourself in the music, you really can see people dancing!

- Notes from Windbandlit


Dionysiaques was not played until after World War I, during which time Schmitt wrote primarily for chorus and military band. Finally, in 1923, the work was premiered by the Garde Républicaine band in the Luxembourg gardens in Paris

- Program note by Michael Votta Jr.


Dionysiaques, a work for mature university or professional ensembles, evades classification. Although Schmitt was a French composer who embraced the innovations of Debussy, this work also displays connections to German Romanticism and such post-Romantic composers as Stravinsky and Ravel. The score calls for unique instrumentation, although contemporary groups successfully adapt the work for modern ensembles. This piece is fairly accessible for audiences, and musicians will enjoy the dramatic stylizations.

- Notes from Great Music for Wind Band


Dionysiaques was composed for the 100-member Garde Républicaine Band in Paris in 1913, mere months after Schmitt attended the premiere performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Its own premiere had to wait until 1925 because of World War I but it has been performed frequently since the mid-20th century and it now stands as one of the cornerstone pieces of the early wind band repertoire.

The title comes from the “Dyonisia” – ancient Greek celebrations honoring Dionysus, the god of wine. He was thought to have provided man with the vineyard, and subsequently the harvest, winemaking, drunkenness and the means for mystical trances.

The piece itself begins ominously as the low brass and woodwinds set the stage for an exotic and almost hypnotic journey. Schmitt’s impressionistic tendencies are immediately evident: wandering melodies emerge in the woodwinds and gradually gain momentum. Their fluidity is slowly abandoned in favor of festivity, perhaps encouraged by the ‘fluid’ of Dionysus, be it red or white. The bacchanal eventually bursts forth, brimming with rhythmic vitality and a relentless insistence on partying all the way to the verge of control, and perhaps a bit beyond.

- Program Note by Cynthia Johnston Turner


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Audio Links


State Ratings

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Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


References