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The Miraculous Mandarin

Bela Bartok
1919
Extracts: Beginning, Dance of the Girl, The Chase

1. Synopsis: Beginning—Curtain rises


2. First seduction game
3. Second seduction game
4. Third seduction game—the Mandarin enters
5. Dance of the girl
6. The chase—the tramps leap out
7. Suddenly the Mandarin's head appears
8. The Mandarin falls to the floor
After an orchestral introduction depicting the chaos of the big city, the action begins in a
room belonging to three tramps. They search their pockets and drawers for money, but
find none. They then force a girl to stand by the window and attract passing men into the
room. The girl begins a lockspiel — a "decoy game", or saucy dance. She first attracts a
shabby old rake, who makes comical romantic gestures. The girl asks, "Got any money?"
He replies, "Who needs money? All that matters is love." He begins to pursue the girl,
growing more and more insistent until the tramps seize him and throw him out.
The girl goes back to the window and performs a second lockspiel. This time she attracts
a shy young man, who also has no money. He begins to dance with the girl. The dance
grows more passionate, then the tramps jump him and throw him out too.
The girl goes to the window again and begins her dance. The tramps and girl see a
bizarre figure in the street, soon heard coming up the stairs. The tramps hide, and the
figure, a Mandarin (wealthy Chinese man), stands immobile in the doorway. The tramps
urge the girl to lure him closer. She begins another saucy dance, the Mandarin's
passions slowly rising. Suddenly, he leaps up and embraces the girl. They struggle and
she escapes; he begins to chase her. The tramps leap on him, strip him of his valuables,
and attempt to suffocate him under pillows and blankets. However, he continues to stare
at the girl. They stab him three times with a rusty sword; he almost falls, but throws
himself again at the girl. The tramps grab him again and hang him from a lamp hook. The
lamp falls, plunging the room into darkness, and the Mandarin's body begins to glow with
an eerie blue-green light. The tramps and girl are terrified. Suddenly, the girl knows what
they must do. She tells the tramps to release the Mandarin; they do. He leaps at the girl
again, and this time she does not resist and they embrace. With the Mandarin's longing
fulfilled, his wounds begin to bleed and he dies.

Music[edit]
The score begins with an orchestral depiction of the "concrete jungle." The violins
have rapidly rising and falling, wave-like scales over the very unusual interval of
an augmented octave. One of the central motifs of the work is set forward in bar 3—a
6/8 rhythm in minor seconds. This motif will reappear at the violent actions of the tramps.
The sound of car horns is imitated by fanfares on the trumpets and trombones. As the
curtain rises, the violas play a wide-leaping theme that will be associated both with the
tramps and the girl. The 3 lockspiele are scored for the clarinet, each one longer and
more florid than the last. The old rake is represented by trombone glissandi spanning
a minor third, another very important interval. As the tramps throw him out, the minor
second in 6/8 returns. The music for the shy young man is a slow dance in 5/4, also
interrupted by the 6/8 minor second as the tramps throw him out. When the Mandarin is
heard in the street, the trombone plays a simple pentatonic theme harmonized by 3 lines
of parallel tritones in the other trombones and the tuba. When the Mandarin enters the
room, the trombones and tuba play downward glissandos, again spanning a minor third.
Three measures later, this interval is played fortississimo by the full brass.
The girl's dance for the Mandarin contains both a waltz and the viola theme
associated with her and the tramps. When the Mandarin seizes the girl, the minor
second is heard again. The chase is represented by a fugue, whose subject also
has a pentatonic flavor. The concert suite ends at this point. In the complete ballet,
the 6/8 minor second returns again as the tramps rob the Mandarin. The attempted
suffocation and stabbing are illustrated with great force in the orchestra. As the tramps
hang the Mandarin from the lamp, the texture is blurred with glissandi on trombones,
timpani, piano and cellos. The glowing body of the Mandarin is represented by the entry
of a chorus singing wordlessly, once again in the interval of a minor third. The climax,
after the girl embraces the Mandarin, is a theme given out fortissimo by the low brass
against minor-second tremolos in the woodwinds. As the Mandarin begins to bleed, the
downward minor-third glissando heard at his entry is echoed in the trombone,
contrabassoon and low strings. The work then stutters arhythmically to a close.
The scoring is generally heavy, and Bartók employs many colorful techniques here,
including chromatic scales, trills and tremolos in the woodwinds; glissandi in the horns,
trombones and tuba; cluster chords and tremolos on the piano; scales and arpeggios on
the piano, harp and celeste; and scales, double stops, trills, tremolos, and glissandi in the
strings. Other special effects include fluttertonguing in the flutes; muting the brasses and
strings, a cymbal roll a deux (a cymbal crash followed by scraping the plates together);
playing the bass drum with the wooden part of a timpani mallet; a roll on the gong; rolled
timpani glissandi; string harmonics; col legno and sul ponticello playing in the
strings; scordatura in the cellos; and, at one point, quarter-tones in the violins.

Richard Strauss
Salome
Synopsis
Judea, A.D. 30. From the moonlit terrace of King Herod's
palace, Narraboth, captain of the guard, gazes rapturously
inside at the Princess Salome, who is feasting with her
stepfather and his court. The voice of the prophet
Jochanaan echoes from a deep cistern, where he is
imprisoned by the king, who fears him. Salome, bored
with Herod's lechery and his coarse guests, rushes out
for fresh air and becomes curious when she hears
Jochanaan curse Herodias, her mother. When the
soldiers refuse to bring Jochanaan to her, Salome turns
her wiles on Narraboth, who orders that Jochanaan be
summoned.
Salome is fascinated by the prophet's
deathly pallor and pours out her uncontrollable
desire to touch him. The prophet rejects her,
speaking of the Son of God who will come to save
mankind. When Salome continues to beg for
Jochanaan's kiss, Narraboth stabs himself in horror,
and the prophet descends into the cistern, urging
her to seek salvation in the Messiah. The girl
collapses in frustration and longing.
Herod appears, followed by his court. When he slips in
Narraboth's blood, he becomes unnerved and begins to experience
hallucinations, which Herodias scorns. Herod's thoughts turn to Salome, who
spurns his attentions. Renewed abuse from Jochanaan's subterranean voice
harasses Herodias, who demands that Herod turn the prophet over to the Jews.
Herod's refusal incurs an argument among several Jews
concerning the nature of God, and a narrative of
Christ's miracles by two Nazarenes.
Herod begs Salome to divert him by dancing and offers her anything she might
wish in return. Salome makes him swear he will live up to his promise, then
dances, slowly shedding seven veils and finishing her performance at his feet.
Salome demands the head of Jochanaan on a silver platter, ignoring Herod's
desperate alternatives – jewels, rare birds, a sacred veil. The terrified king finally
gives in. After a tense pause, the arm of the executioner rises from the cistern,
offering the head to Salome. As clouds obscure the moon, Salome seizes her
reward passionately, addressing Jochanaan as if he lived and
triumphantly kissing his lips. Overcome with revulsion,
Herod orders the soldiers to kill Salome.

The miraculous mandarin


Bela Bartok
1919

Tapiola
Jean Sibelius
1926
 “Not everyone can be an innovating genius,”
 Sibelius played a vital role in the development of Finnish nationalism
 Finlands independence from Russia came in 1917
 “anti-modern, modernism”

Scriabin Alexander
Vers La Flemme- Opus 72
1914
 One of his last pieces for piano
 Although intended to be his eleventh sonata he published it early due to
financial concerns, giving it the alternative title of a Poem
 According to Horowitz the inspiration behind the work was Scriabin’s
conviction that a constant accumulation of heat would cause the
destruction of the world

Strauss
Don Quixote, Theme, Variation 1 and 2
1897
 Fantastic variations on a theme of knightly character
 Strauss confessed he required a story to stimulate his musical
imagination
 Don Quixote inspiration comes from Miguel De Cervantes 17th century
novel
 Introduction in 4/4, Variation 1 and 2 is are in 12/8
 The cello represents the character of Don Quixote, the viola represents
the Servant
 Through too little sleep and too much reading of books on knighthood, he
dried up his brains in such a way that he wholly lost his judgement. His
fantasy was filled with those things that he read, of enchantments, quarrels,
battles, challenges, wooings, loves, storms… “
 In the introduction, the knight’s beclouded brain is suggested by the
momentary use of mutes in all the instruments and strange harmonies,
bordering on the atonal. In the first variation, we are introduced (via
woodwinds and strings) to the Don’s unattainable love, Dulcinea, and there
ensues the fight with evil giants, in fact windmills, ending with the Don’s
graphic fall from his horse (harp glissando). Variation II is the infamous
contest with the army of the “Great Emperor Alifanfaron,” in actuality a flock
of sheep (you can’t miss them). Critics of Strauss’ time were particularly
outraged by this all-too-realistic cacophony.

Strauss
Salome, final scene
1904
Mahler
Symphony 5 1st movement
 5 movement work
 1st movement is in C sharp minor
 2 parts to the first movement, the funeral march opening with the
trumpet motive taken form Beethoven’s 5th symphony
 The trumpet opening is followed by the funeral march theme
 5 movements grouped into 3 parts
 The march is contrasted with two trio sections
 First purely instrumental symphony since the 1st
 Mahler’s obsession with death is prominent in the symphony
“The Fifth is finished. I had to re-orchestrate it almost completely. . . . a
completely new style demanded a new technique.
 “his new style caused him difficulties in orchestration”