The Music of Isolation
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Recorded Presentation: https://youtu.be/io7GCeVJi4M | “The Music of Isolation” explores solo piano pieces written by composers who endured physical, geographical, and social isolation. The program is comprised of Fantasia in C Major, Hob. XVII:4 by Franz Joseph Haydn (1789), Three Preludes for Piano by Charles Griffes (1919), and Rondeau by Olivier Messiaen (1943). Each piece has been carefully chosen from the composers’ oeuvres to represent periods of their lives characterized by isolation. The full range of human emotion is explored, from brilliant creativity, to despair and darkness, to release. Despite their disparate styles, the unifying theme of isolation provides insight and historical context for each composer’s compositional choices. Haydn’s Fantasia was composed near the end of his time in Esterháza and is the culmination of his unique keyboard writing. The work’s surprising harmonic shifts and unorthodox keyboard techniques are indicative of the composer’s unique development due to his geographical isolation. Griffes’s Preludes were composed in the final year of his life, shortly before he succumbed to the Spanish Flu. Messiaen’s Rondeau, composed shortly after his release from Stalag VIII-A, gives us a glimpse into life post-isolation. The goal of the project is to introduce the audience to lesser-known works by well-known composers. The presentation includes video recordings of the three works, plus a lecture presentation on the historical context of each piece, providing a sense of shared connection that invites the audience to view each composer’s work with a fresh perspective.