Mark Gasser: 'Passacaglia on DSCH' Ronald Stevenson 1/3

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Uploaded on February 25, 2010 by OrangeEars

he Passacaglia on DSCH is a large-scale composition for solo piano by the British composer Ronald Stevenson. It was composed between 24 December 1960 and 18 May 1962, except for two sections added on the day of the first performance on 10 December 1963. The composer presented a copy of the score to Dmitri Shostakovich, its dedicatee, at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival.


The work takes the principle of passacaglia or chaconne - nIt is based on a 13-note 'ground' derived from the musical motif D, E-flat, C, B: the German transliteration of Dmitri Shostakovich's initials ("D. Sch."). (Shostakovich used these four notes as a musical 'signature', for example in his Eighth String Quartet). Stevenson's work takes more than an hour and a quarter to perform and may be the longest unbroken single movement composed for piano.

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