Three Etudes for Piano and Orchestra


Rediscovered music by one's of the World's foremost French composers slated to be premièred in June.

This work was written in the first months of 1942 while Tailleferre was living in Grasse, in the so-colled « Free Zone » of occupied France during the Second World War and was completed just as Tailleferre was forced to flee France with her daughter. As the wife of Jean Lageat, who had been the secretary of the French socialist Léon Blum during the « Front Populaire » period just before the War and who was at that time in the US working against the Vichy Government, and as someone who was not unvocal about her political views, this could not have been a comfortable situation. Tailleferre left a record of what she experienced during this period in an article written for the American music journal « Modern Music » which she wrote shortly after arriving in America in the Spring of 1942 :

« Notwithstanding their staunch spirit of resistence, the people under German rule today are increasingly bowed down under their burdens. By achieving the physical decline of the French, the Nazis hope that spiritual collapse will ensue. However, after two years of quasi-famine, France remains pround and great, although the necessity of liberation grows daily more urgent.....For an artist to work under these conditions is almost impossible. The mere effort of subsisting wastes time and absorbs energy ; The means to work are also lacking.....Musical composition is made practically impossible through lack of music paper. For more than a year, I sought in vain to find paper in Lyon, Marseilles and Nice on which to copy an orchestral score...Two years of experience under German rule have taught me that all expressions of pride, dignity, spirit , aspiration of the human will can be made only claudestinely. It is a historical truth that the human mind makes its greatest progress under freedom ».

Under such circumstances, it is a miracle that this work exists at all. The three movement work was dedicated to the famous Marguerite Long, for whom Tailleferre had already written several short works for piano solo, and François Lang, a pianist who was closely linked with the Group des Six and who had performed in the première of the 1934 Concerto Grosso for Two Pianos, 8 Solo Voices, Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra and for whom Tailleferre wrote two cadenzas for concerti by Mozart and Haydn. The work opens with sunny, optimistism in a mood similar to the opening movement of the Concerto Grosso, but quickly the mood changes to more dramatic themes. The second movement seems to subjectively express a rupture with the past and a tragic melancholy. The final third movement is extremely dramatic and almost frightening with it’s force.

When Tailleferre left France in the Spring of 1942, having been warned by a neighbor that she was going to be arrested if she didn’t leave immediately, she left the score in a two-piano version, probably due to the fact that there was no music paper to be had to copy the score. When she returned to France in 1946, she learned that François Lang had been deported to Auschwitz where he died. Musical life in France had been completely changed by the War years. Tailleferre put the work aside and forgot about it, perhaps wanting to forget the hardships that she had lived through and the loss of many of her friends associated with these years.

Tailleferre's version for two pianos is published by Musik Fabrik and the work may be performed in that version. It is clear however, that the work was intended to be orchestrated and the editors hope that the present orchestration will allow the work to finally be presented as Tailleferre conceived during some of the darkest years of the Twentieth century.

Order your copy directly from Musik Fabrik

Three Études, version for Two Pianos/ Trois Études, version Deux Pianos 24€95
written for Marguerite Long and François Lang
Three Etudes for Piano and Orchestra/Trois Études pour Piano et Orchestre, (orchestration de Paul Wehage) 2222/4231/tim/2 perc/hp/pno solo/cordes 39€95 Parts on Rental/Matériel en location

Cadenzas for the Piano Concerto no. 11 in D Hob XVIII:1 by F. J. Haydn and for the Concerto no. 22 in Eb, K 482 by Mozart, for Piano solo/Cadences pour le Concerto pour Piano en Ré Hob XVIII/1 et le Concerto en Mib K. 482 de Mozart pour Piano 9€95

The two Cadenzas written by Tailleferre for François Lang/les Deux Cadences écrite par Tailleferre pour François Lang