Conditions of the Tournament

Music history is replete with stories of artists meeting an early demise: Chopin, Django, Dinu Lipatti, William Kapell, and even Scriabin all passed on young.
Perhaps Lipatti and Kapell are less well known, but they are very important musicians in my estimation. Lipatti (1917-1950) was a fantastic composer and pianist who thankfully left us some recordings, though precious few, and many are of poor sound quality. Thanks to someone like Mark Ainley, who manages the Lipatti website, he is not forgotten.
Kapell (1922-1953) was considered by many to be the greatest of all young American pianists at the time of his untimely death in a plane crash. His legacy is also preserved, thankfully, on record.
While it is hard to reckon with the unfortunate nature of these circumstances, it is, none the less, a reminder that life is full of contradictions–like tragedy and success and the noble fight in the face of adversity.
Lipatti, in particular, who fought lymphoma in the late 1940’s when a cure was not yet possible comes to mind. His last recital which is preserved on a memorable concert recording was practically a “cavalry” experience for him. Short of breath and weak, he still persevered and made memorable, strong music. His death at 33 also lends itself to the Christ-like comparison, but perhaps that’s going too far.
This all puts me in mind of how writer Shelby Foote put these kinds of things into some perspective. Foote said that even though these harsh turns of nature were hard to negotiate, they were still “conditions of the tournament.”

Quixote

QuixoteWritten and performed by Reynold Philipsek, copyright 2017, available as a complimentary download on the Free MP3s page.

The 17th Century Spanish tale by Miguel de Cervantes of Don Quixote and his adventures has inspired many artists. Both Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam spent considerable time, money and energy shooting miles of film to no avail or a completed film on the subject.

For more than 15 years I have entertained the idea of writing an “episodic” piece about this prototypical “hidalgo.”

During my recent six weeks in Naples I finally began to write this music.

In keeping with the Spanish theme of the central character I have utilized two distinct Spanish dance rhythms- The “guajira” (a bar of 6/8 followed by a bar of 3/4) and a Tango/Habanera rhythm.

There are three resting pedal points which can be seen as transitional (scene changes). These three “pedals” are C, D and E. The piece could easily be extended further by continuing these pedals in whole tones 4 more steps (G flat, A flat, B flat) to once again return to C.

Another objective was to bend standard song forms and to create an extended piece of music that has not only prescribed themes and movements but places for improvisation. Though this version is done on solo acoustic guitar (with synth drone pedals) ideally I would like to play the piece this summer with both of my trios (East Side and Sidewalk Cafe). The drones could easily be handled on arco upright bass.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Don Quixote was a hidalgo who read so many chivalric romances that he loses his grip on reality and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs and bring justice to the world. Cervantes tells this tale with much humor and pathos.

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