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Tristan (orchestral composition): Wikis

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Tristan is a six-movement orchestral work by the German composer Hans Werner Henze.

Scored for piano, tape and full orchestra, it takes the form of a homage to Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde, with the piano providing preludes to a series of widely divergent material, both live and on tape, including direct quotations from Brahms's First Symphony and Chopin's Funeral March, a birdsong-like treatment on tape of a recording of a soloist singing Isolde's part and a child reading extracts from Joseph Bédier's account of the death of Isolde (in the English translation by Hilaire Belloc) as well as a recording of a human heartbeat.

Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, it was premiered on 20 October 1975 under Colin Davis at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The piano soloist was Homero Francesch, who later recorded it with the composer conducting.

The six movements are:

  • Prologue
  • Lament
  • Prelude and Variations
  • Tristan's Folly
  • Adagio
  • Epilogue

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