Garotte for orchestra, opus 10 (1981)
Musically and extramusically, the basic ideas of Garotte are simple. The work’s musical construction is derived from three sources: a diatonic major scale (and particularly its upper fifth); a pentatonic scale; and a Gavotte by the Italian Baroque composer, Francesco Veracini. To a large extent the two polarities of tonality (the first and second sources) function as recurrent thematic symbols and as sources for thematic embellishment and development. The third musical aspect (Veracini’s Gavotte) acts as a catalyst to the use of the pitch polarities as a manipulable melodic and rhythmic idea (i.e., a tune). Whilst the structure of the work is fairly precise and integrated, the content is at least partially tongue-in-cheek.
The title Garotte is more than just a play on the word Gavotte. In fact, Veracini’s Gavotte is strangled or garrotte in the course of the piece. The work is obviously not a conventional theme and variations, in fact the Gavotte per se is never heard intact but rather is the source for malevolent disintegration.Rather like the pallid artist in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Veracini’s Gavotte is unhealthily taken on a wild goose chase and dispatched with brutally.
The work was written in November of 1981 for a National Young Composers Summer School in Sydney that year. It was given its first performances by the ABC Sinfonia.
© Andrew Schultz, 1981.