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The Seville Athenaeum

Homenaje a César Franck / Homage to César Franck

Wind Quintet

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In November 1978, the Seville Athenaeum created a wind quintet, made up of Miguel Quirós (oboe and conducting), Agustin Llavate (flute), Antonio García Herrera (clarinet), Manuel Salvador Tomás (horn) and Alfonso Sánchez Jaén (bassoon).

The presentation of the group took place on November 23rd 1978 in the Reales Alcázares in Seville, at the opening ceremony of the Athenaeum's 1978-79 academic year.

In order to publicise the newly created group, in 1979 the Athenaeum organised a composition contest for wind quintet under the name of "José María Izquierdo", in homage to the Sevillian writer, jurist and journalist born in 1886 and died in 1922; and under the strong impression of having been a finalist in January of the same year in the 5th "Golden Harp Trophy" of the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks with my work Crucifixus, I was quick to decide to compose a quintet to take part in the competition.
The result was Homage to César Franck, composed in Madrid in July of 1979 and dedicated to the man who until only a few years earlier had been my main teacher of counterpoint, composition and, above all, orchestration: José Olmedo (1910-1983), also from Seville, who had been a disciple of my grandfather's. The figure of the latter, the end as can be seen of that whole chain of "Sevillanisms", was what prompted me to write a work in which, in a very indirect way, my music was related to that of his main reference, the Belgian César Franck, whose cyclical school Joaquín Turina imported to Spain after having been deeply trained in it during his years as a student at the Schola Cantorum in Paris... All arbitrary, if you like, but full of meaning for me.

César Franck (1822-1890)

Homage to César Franck consists of a single movement of about eleven minutes in length, in which a unison of rapid notes on all five instruments becomes a recurring call that opens and closes the work, as well as serving to separate and unite the main sections of the work: a first one, based on the three-note turn (a syncopation followed by a descending second, then a leap in the opposite direction) that begins the first movement of Franck's Symphony in D minor; and a second one with several subsections based on an ascending octave canon between clarinet and flute, similar to that which occurs in a large part of the beginning of the last movement of the Sonata for violin and piano. In both cases there is no recognisable textual quotation of music by César Franck, but rather they serve as a constructive pretext for a totally free treatment, within a general atonality of the material in play.

César Franck, Symphony in D minor

César Franck, 4th movement of the Sonata en A major

Homage to César Franck won the second prize in the competition, and was premiered together with the other winning works (Cruz y Raya by Luis Blanes, and Music for wind quintet by Juan Luis Moraleda) at the Athenaeum de Sevilla on 22 May 1980, by the wind quintet "Athenaeum de Sevilla" conducted by Miguel Quirós.

Premiere program of Homage to César Franck

Homage to César Franck's first page

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(Score and parts without watermarks available at www.asesores-musicales.com )