Variations on an Australian Theme : for piano
by John Spence (2014)
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Variations on an Australian Theme is a dramatic work for
solo piano composed for the Gallipoli landing centenary. It sets
the scene of 1915 with a number of references to popular and
classical music from the year 1915 including a patriotic song
called Australia Will Be There. As the drama unfolds,
enthusiasm and energy is expressed through a range of piano
styles from the war era including ragtime and blues. While there
are no direct quotes the playing style of Art Tatum and Oscar
Peterson help create a period drama setting, combined with more
contemporary harmonic and rhythmic expression.
The piece also consists of a range of variations based on the Australian song Along the Road to Gundagai. The song is not heard in a recognisable sense but the melodic contour of the song becomes the subject material for variations. Nostalgia turns to fear in the latter section of the piece with dramatic arpeggios alongside fast atonal sequences depict frightened scurrying. The piece concludes with a solemn reflection of the central theme of Along the Road To Gundagai.
Instrumentation: Piano (requires a grand piano with a sostenuto pedal).
Duration: 20 min.
Dedication note: Dedicated to Martin Wesley-Smith
Commission note: Commissioned with funds provided by Australia Council.
The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc assocaited with this work:
The music of Martin Wesley-Smith has been an important influence. Other influences include all the great composers of piano music including Liszt, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Ligeti, Sculthorpe and Vine.
Performances of this work
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