Serge Koussevitzky: recently discovered compositions for double bass and for large ensembles within the context of his life and career

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Date

2003-05

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Stiles, Robert Daniel, 1969-

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Abstract

Serge Koussevitzky is best known as a conductor and is credited with the growth and development of symphonic music, both in the United States and in Europe. Also known as a great virtuoso of the double bass, Koussevitzky’s previously published compositions comprise an integral staple of repertoire for the instrument. The five previously published works, with the publication of this document, are now augmented by three new etudes for solo double bass (Allegro, Allegro molto, Andante) as well as two arrangements for double bass and piano (Vocalise, Kol Nidrei). Additionally, Koussevitzky also composed and arranged works for large ensembles, some of which survive, including works for full orchestra (Overture, Passacaille sur un thème Russe), chorus and orchestra (Fair Harvard), wind ensemble (an arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Major, No. 17, BWV 547), and chamber orchestra (an arrangement of "Christ lag in Todesbanden”). The history of these compositions is only partially clear and impossible to fully reconstruct. Additionally, recently discovered documents and correspondence clearly indicate the Double Bass Concerto, often attributed to Reinhold Gliere, was indeed composed by Koussevitzky. In total, thirty-four works can be attributed to Koussevitzky, either as original compositions or arrangements. Through his musical direction and guidance, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center, and eventually the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Koussevitzky placed an emphasis and commitment to new and original composition, an exercise he apparently practiced himself throughout his entire career.

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