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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000088.txt from 2004/12

From: Tony Pay <>
Subj: Re: Re: [kl] Scaramouche
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 11:56:07 -0500

On 4 Dec, "davidglenn" <> wrote:

> Tony Pay wrote:
> > The story I have is that it was an arrangement, listed as being for t=
> > pianos, of some of the incidental music Milhaud had written for a
> > children's play by Vildrac (after Moliere) called 'Le Medecin Volant'=
> > This play was first performed at the Theatre Scaramouche in Paris in =
> > -- hence perhaps the title of the piece.
> >=20
> > How the saxophone comes into the story I don't know. Might it have b=
> > a significant part of the original instrumentation (cf La Creation du=

> > Monde, 1923)? Perhaps someone else has more details.

> Scaramouche was written for Sigurd Rascher in 1939. Here's what I hear =
> Carina Rascher: She tells me that her father Sigurd was forced to emmig=
> from Germany in 1939 and for his protection, an obituary was published.=

> Otherwise, he was afraid the Nazis would chase him down. Milhaud had
> written Scaramouche originally for Mr. Rascher as a saxophone solo with=

> orchestra but upon seeing the obituary, made a new version for two pian=
> It wasn't until 1952 in Aspen, Colorado that Rascher met Milhaud again
> where the composer was conducting at a festival.=20

Whether this is true awaits final corroboration, but it's not what appear=
s in
Grove, and at least one other source has it round the other way:


In 1937 Milhaud composed "...a piano work that gave me enormous trouble. =
was a suite for two pianos, to be played by Ida Jankelevitch and Marcelle=

Meyer. I took some passages from two sets of incidental music for the sta=
and called the mixture Scaramouche. At once Deiss offered to publish it. =
advised him against it, saying that no one would want to buy it. But he w=
an original character who only published works that he liked. He happened=
like Scaramouche and insisted on having his way. In the event he was righ=
for while sales of printed music were everywhere encounterig difficulties=
several printings were made, and Deiss took special delight in informing =
'The Americans are asking for 500 copies and 1000 are being asked for

Scaramouche is a suite in three mouvements: Vif, Mod=E9r=E9, and Brazilei=
ra. What
Milhaud doesn't tell us is that it was commissioned by Ida Jankelevitch f=
or a
performance at the 1937 Paris World's Fair (Exposition Internationale de=
Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne). It became so popular that Milhau=
arranged it for saxophone and orchestra. In the composition of Scaramouc=
Milhaud used music he had written to accompany the Moli=E8re comedy Le M=E9=
Volant. The protagonist of this play is Sganarelle, a scheming valet who
pretends to be a physician. He is based on the Commedia dell'Arte stock
character Scaramouche (or Scaramuccia), an unscrupulous and unreliable
servant. His affinity for intrigue often lands him in difficult situation=
yet he always manages to extricate himself.=20

Saxophonist Sarah Kerbeshian opines that the title of Milhaud's suite evo=
the multiplicity of possible interpretations of the music, just as the
personage of Scaramouche displays more than one character. Polytonality
traverses all the movements of Scaramouche, expressing the theme of
simultaneity, with several points of view seen at the same time.

For choro lovers, it is interesting to note that the third movement of
Scaramouche, "Brazileira", bears a striking resemblance to Pixinguinha's=

"Ainda Me Recordo", and its opening sounds eerily like the tango "Brejei=
by Ernesto Nazareth.

Milhaud himself recorded Scaramouche, op. 165b with Marcelle Meyer=A0in 1=


Note the dates throughout.

This is from:

_________ Tony Pay =20
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE
tel/fax 01865 553339
... Smile... people will wonder what you've been up to.

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