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Stalin's Piano : Voice portraits of artists and politicians

by Robert Davidson (2017)

Stalin's Piano


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Stalin's Piano : for solo piano with video / Robert Davidson.

Library shelf no. 786.2/DAV 6 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Artists and politicians often overlap, and this suite of "voice portraits" juxtaposes them. The piano provides a musical picture frame for the portraits, which consist of spoken recordings of iconic figures, their speech recast as music by doubling and harmonising the natural intonation, without editing and pitch-shifting. The music is intended to intensify the emotional aspects of the speech - when we listen to the music behind the words, we can tap into the deeper unspoken meanings.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Piano, video.

Duration: 70 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Synchronisation with video

Contents note: Bertolt Brecht -- Sun, space and green: Le Corbusier -- Free Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright -- Gereral, what about if the... -- e.e. cummings: sweet spring is your -- The art of agony: Percy Grainger (version for solo piano) -- Stalin's piano -- Yudina -- Goebbels -- Thomas Mann -- Night (for voice and piano, text by Judith Wright) -- Robert Helpmann -- Susan Sontag -- David Malouf: stooping to drink -- Arthur Boyd -- Out of the Blue: Jackson Pollock and Gough Whitlam -- Total political correctness: Donald Trump -- Not now, not ever (solo piano version) -- Michelle Obama: To Connect.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Sonya Lifschitz

Commission note: Commissioned by Canberra International Music Festival.

First performance: by Sonya Lifschitz at CIMF 2017: Stalin's Piano - Robert Davidson (James O Fairfax Theatre) on 30 Apr 2017

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Speech melody

This work is a modular collection, and the individual movements are not in a set sequence. Also, there are continually new movements being added, so the current collection held by AMC may not be complete.

Finalist for 2019 AMC APRA Art Music Awards

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2019 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Instrumental Finalist Robert Davidson


Resonate article: Australians shine at Classical:NEXT 2019 in Rotterdam by Cameron Lam

Performances of this work

10 Oct 2020: at Stalin's Piano at Windsong Pavilion (Four Winds Windsong Pavilion). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

17 Oct 2019: at Stalin's Piano (Melbourne Recital Centre, Elisabeth Murdoch Hall). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

22 Mar 2019: at A weekend in the life of a piano (Rosny Farm Arts Centre & Rosny Barn). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

14 Sep 2018: at Stalin’s Piano (QPAC Cremorne Theatre). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

15 Mar 2018: at Stalin’s Piano (City Recital Hall). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

14 Mar 2018: at Adelaide Festival: Stalin's Piano (Grainger Studio). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

19 Jan 2018: at MOFO 2018: Sonya Lifschitz - Stalin’s Piano (Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

15 Oct 2017: at Port Fairy: Stalin's piano (Drill Hall (Port Fairy)). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

30 Apr 2017: at CIMF 2017: Stalin's Piano - Robert Davidson (James O Fairfax Theatre). Featuring Sonya Lifschitz.

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