Commissioned and first performed by the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya at L'Auditori Barcelona conducted by Rumon Gamba on 2 December 2005.

  • 3(2pic).3.3+Ebcl.3/4.3.2+btbn.1/timp.4perc/
  • 25 min

Programme Note

These Symphonic Studies, Gaudiana, refer to the unique buildings of the renowned Catalonian Architect Antoni Gaudí. The work was intended for the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and their new Concert Hall designed by Rafael Moneo.

While contemplating the task ahead, I revisited Gaudí’s great unfinished Cathedral of "La Sagrada Familia," and was unexpectedly overwhelmed by a feeling of intense sadness and prescient drama. The sight of the interior bare bones of this huge building, like an enormous empty carcass, reminded me compellingly of Piranesi’s series of engravings, "Carceri d’Invenzione," from which I have five framed prints hanging on my walls at home.

The piece, dedicated to my wife Carolyn, begins with an extended Chorale (Pietà) marked Grave, for strings only, indicative of Gaudí’s intense devotion to the Marian sect of Catholicism. After this section, a few discreet taps on the xylophone wake up the rest of the orchestra, and the music grows quickly into a full blown set of Symphonic Studies, responding to different features of Gaudí’s highly inventive and often colourfully exuberant style. One recognizable musical source in the development of the thematic material is derived from the short Introit to the Sardana. This call to join the distinctive Catalan folk dance, traditionally played on the flabiol, is here rendered by the piccolo, the flute, and other woodwind instruments. The final study begins energetically, but marks a return to the slow music of the opening and to the unfinished Cathedral, where it ends dramatically and quietly.

As an afterthought, a feature of the interior of l’Auditori that seems to have stayed in my memory after I had attended the inaugural concerts, was the unusually prominent, raised position of the timpani at the back of the stage. I realized later on that it must have influenced the orchestration a little, here and there!

Programme note © 2005 Gerard Schurmann

Rumon Gamba shortly before the world premiere commented that Gaudiana “isn’t a graphic type of music, but rather music that creates a general impression. It doesn’t transmit images, but rather emotions. It is a music that comes from the heart and that has truth and beauty.”


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