You are on page 1of 2

Christopher Nicklin

Mus 601
Dr. Monchick
Will the Real Five Bagatelles Please Step Down?
In 1970 one of the most notable pieces of the guitar repertoire was composed by
Sir William Walton for Julian Bream. The Five Bagatelles for Guitar is one of the most
innovative scores with in the guitar repertoire. It pushes the guitar to the limits of its
expressive capability and moved forward the boundaries of what the guitar could realize.
Later in Waltons career, he had a problematic time composing for all the commissions
that he received. Because of this he eventually turned to reorchestrating his prior
compositions. When Walton was commissioned to write for The Royal Ballet he turned to
this work. Out of the Five Bagatelles for Guitar was born Varii Capricci, a ballet in one
act. Varii Capricci was premiered in 1983, a month after the composers death. However,
before he died he composed a final page of music as a coda for the ballet. This page is not
in the guitar score. With this comes the question of whether the coda was envisioned to
appear in this guitar masterpiece in its conception.
I believe that because Walton was not a guitarist, Varii Capricci shows the
intentions of how the Five Bagatelles are to be performed. Through use of autographed
scores by Walton, reviews of the premiere, and letters from the composer I will show how
Varii Capricci informs the performer on how the Five Bagatelles are intended to be
performed. Along with this I will show how changes in the score of Varii Capricci,
compared to the Five Bagatelles, can be applied to the guitar composition as an

alternative approach. With these comparisons, guitar performers can make betterinformed judgments on how the guitar work is to be interpreted. Along with these
comparisons it offers performers alternative solutions to various difficulties that result in
the composition not being written by a guitar composer.