• Hans Abrahamsen
  • Violin for Carolin

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)

Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk for Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik 2022 and Hindsgavl Festival 2022

Unavailable for performance.

  • vn
  • Violin
  • 10 min
    • 8th December 2022, Boulez Saal, Berlin, Germany
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Programme Note

The open strings of the violin have always captivated me. The fact that they are open got me thinking about the first movement of Mozart’s fifth violin concerto named Allegro Aperto – an open allegro – as well as the blue sky. Two basic musical ideas flow through the five movements of this piece and the movements function as doubles of each other. The first basic idea is found in the first movement which I wrote for open strings without the use of the g string. The music is simple, open, and in reality, a canon in two speeds – a fast with stroked bow and the other in half tempo with pizzicato in the left hand. As in my work for chamber orchestra Schnee there is an echo of Bach hidden somewhere in the musical structure. Also, you might hear fragments of the Danish folk song I went out on a summer’s day. A song my uncle Vagn loved. He was an elementary school teacher and played the violin. His playing was my first exposure to the instrument.  

The second basic idea is a systematic exploration of the coincidence between prime numbers, scales and again the open strings. The basis is a chromatic scale from note D to note A. The seven steps are played polyrhythmically simultaneously. To double this basic musical idea, I mainly change tempo. The original is the third movement, which is slow-fast, and the duplicate is fast-slow and constitutes the work's second movement.

In the fourth movement, we rediscover the basic idea of the open strings from the first movement and thus the fourth movement becomes the double of the first movement. This time the idea is presented through flagellets, the natural overtones of the strings. The music has the same structure as the first movement, but with a faster and different expression with inspiration from excited birds.

The final and fifth movement revolves around our late beloved cat Figaro, who used to lie on my sofa for many years while I worked. In 2019, I wrote the first sketches for a melody based on the letters of his name: F, (m)I, G, A, R(e), (d)O. Unfortunately, Figaro was hit by a car and died the following week and the simple idea lay in the drawer for a long time. When I returned to writing this piece in the Autumn of 2021 the two basic ideas became the first four movements and finally somewhere in the simple melody on Figaro’s name, I rediscovered the ideas of the open strings. The movement became an epitaph and created a clear connection to the other movements of this work.

The work is written for and dedicated to Carolin Widmann who also has the honour of providing the name for the rhythm in the title.

- Hans Abrahamsen

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