Pilgrimage : for toy piano
by Michael Hannan (2015)
Pilgimage is my first piece for toy piano. I became interested in this instrument through my association with Antonietta Loffredo who has played and recorded my Birds Calling in Cloud Valley for piano (2010). Antonietta is a professional pianist based in Como (Italy). She also specialises in toy piano performance and has done extensive research on the history and repertoire of the toy piano.
Toy pianos come in different sizes. While intending to compose some works for the Schoenhut 37-key (3 octave) grand version which I have purchased, I wrote Pilgrimage for the 17-key Janod upright which has a very small range from C to the F a perfect eleventh above. Of course, any piece written for this small toy piano can be played on any of the larger-ranged models.
My idea for Pilgrimage, before I had a title for it, was to write a series of short and simple two- part movements using the medieval church modes. Initially I wrote one for each of the modes (excluding the Ionian mode because it is the same as the modern major scale). I then wrote six more movements, this time using transpositions of these same six church modes. In the second group of six, the Dorian mode is transposed to G;
the Phrygian to D; the Lydian to G, the Mixolydian to C; the Aeolian to D; and the Locrian to D.
I thought most of the movements had a medieval music quality. When I played them to my partner, Sue Boardman, and our niece, Rosemary Gray, they both came up with titles suggesting various activities. As Rosie had just returned from a Camino walk of 700 kilometres, I conceived the idea of calling the piece Pilgrimage and relating their titles for the movements to various activities along the pilgrimage route. There seemed to be a remarkable coincidence between the titles and Rosie's account of her experiences. Although the piece is written for toy piano it is suitable for performance on piano if played an octave higher.
Instrumentation: Toy piano.
Contents note: I. Idyll -- II. Water sprite -- III. Courtly dance -- IV. Folk dance -- V. Searching -- VI. Pilgrim's progress -- VII. Fellowship -- VIII. IX. The long march -- Distant bells -- X. Fiesta -- XI. Childplay -- XII. Meditation.
Dedication note: Dedicated to Antonietta Loffredo
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