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Johan Halvorsen, Passacaglia after Handel , , The Passacaglia with its dual attribution to Handel and Halvorsen is a famous virtuoso piece for violin and cello or violin and viola published by Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen in and based on the finale movement from the harpsichord suite in G minor HWV published by German composer Georg Frideric Handel Handel composed numerous harpsichord suites comprising dance movements, sometimes concluding with the traditional Baroque passacaglia, a term originally designating a Spanish "street dance" though the earliest extant examples are Italian.

The essential feature of the passacaglia is short, resolved chord progression repeated over and over as a continuous harmonic bedrock for a series of improvisations or inventive variations. Numerous Baroque composers wrote such variation movements for harpsichord, organ, violin or ensemble using the nearly interchangeable terms passacaglia or chaconne with several celebrated examples from French and German composers especially J. Halvorsen was a celebrated violinist, conductor and composer who is remembered today primarily for his brilliant "extrapolation" of Handel's passacaglia for daring ensemble of two stringed instruments.

The "theme" is a brief four-measure sequence of eight chords with a characteristic dotted rhythm generating a series of thrilling variations in a tour de force of musical invention. The spare resources of violin and cello require numerous double and triple stops, multi-note chords on each instrument to create a full four-part harmony. Some of the variations take an alternative approach using swift melody lines that create a linear harmonic effect over time.

The result is scintillating dialog for two master players frequently expanding to four and five simultaneous parts. All rights reserved. Johan Halvorsen Nationality : Norwegian. Passacaglia After Handel for violin and viola for violin and viola. Duration : 7 minutes approximately. Composed : age From Kai Christiansen. Of Spanish origin first appearing in the early 17th century. Some generalizations suggest a grave character, a minor key and a triple meter.

Typical examples include orchestrating piano or chamber works and visa versa. Within the realm of chamber music, a work for winds might be transcribed for strings, a symphony into a string quartet, a trio featuring a clarinet substituting a viola. One interesting question is: who made the transcription, the original composer?

One interesting effect is that the transcription may become favored over the original.


Inside the Music: Halvorsen’s Passacaglia

Johan Halvorsen 15 March — 4 December was a Norwegian composer , conductor and violinist. Born in Drammen , Norway he was an accomplished violinist from a very early age and became a prominent figure in Norwegian musical life. He received his musical education in Kristiania now Oslo and Stockholm , and was a concertmaster in Bergen before joining the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Returning to Norway in , he worked as conductor of the theatre orchestra at Den Nationale Scene in Bergen and of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He became concertmaster of the Bergen Philharmonic in , and principal conductor in In he was appointed conductor of the orchestra at the newly opened National Theatre in Kristiania, [2] a position he held for 30 years until his retirement in As well as theatre music, Halvorsen conducted performances of over 30 operas and also wrote the incidental music for more than 30 plays.


Passacaglia (After Handel) (for violin and viola)

Johan Halvorsen was a celebrated Norwegian composer, conductor, and violinist. His Passacaglia based on a theme by Handel remains one of his most performed works, and will appear on the Colburn Chamber Music Society program on September Composer, conductor, and violinist Johan Halvorsen was a key figure in Norwegian music during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During his time, he established himself as a multi-talented professional, excelling as a concertmaster, conductor of theatre orchestra, and composer of incidental music, symphonies, and chamber music in Norway and across Europe. Although originally written for a violin and viola, it is most commonly performed with the deeper cello acting as the anchoring bass instrument.


Handel/Halvorsen: Passacaglia in G minor for Violin and Cello


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