Conversations with Matisse

From Wind Repertory Project
Robert W. Smith

Robert W. Smith

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General Info

Year: 2021
Duration: c. 14:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Saxophone and piano
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. The Dance – 5:00
2. The Blue Window – 5:00
3. The Music Lesson – 4:45


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Conversations with Matisse is a three-movement concerto for alto saxophone and band. Each movement is unique with the first (The Dance) featuring key clicks and other extended techniques in an elegantly sweeping solo line over a swelling and energetic band accompaniment. The Dance by Matisse is a painting made in 1910, at the request of Russian businessman and art collector Sergei Shchukin, who bequeathed the large decorative panel to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The composition of dancing figures portrayed by Matisse is recognized as an important point of Matisse's career and in the development of modern painting.

The second movement, The Blue Window, is a beautiful slower movement. Created in 1913 and first reproduced in 1914 in the May edition of the journal Les Soirées de Paris, it was titled La Glace sans tain, or "the mirror without silvering," referring to a device known as a Claude mirror. This work is a departure from his earlier pieces, being more subdued in color due to the techniques Matisse employed. The music of the second movement is also more subdued than the first movement, but no less beautiful to the ear.

The third movement, entitled The Music Lesson is reflective or inspired by Matisse’s work of the similar title., The Piano Lesson. With its austere geometries and structured sense of balance, The Piano Lesson is sometimes seen as Matisse’s answer to Cubism. This painting could serve as an allegory on art making, which requires balance between emotional expression and intellectual understanding. Musically speaking, the movement has a somewhat academic first theme presented by the piano, with almost exercise like treatments around it. Not without emotion, the composer artfully balances intellectual technique with interesting themes and contrasting emotion.

-Program Note by Adam F. Brennan, with references to web resources on Matisse from and

This work was originally entitled Three Conversations with Matisse, and was published for saxophone and piano.

Henri Émile Benoît Matisse (31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • United States Coast Guard Band (New London, Conn.) (Adam Williamson, conductor; Josh Thomas, alto saxophone) – 21 November 2021 *Premiere Performance*
  • Mansfield (Penn.) University Concert Wind Ensemble (Adam F. Brennan, conductor; Joseph Murphy, alto saxophone) - 20 November 2021

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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