Sestina, op. 161

Ernst Krenek (1900 - 1991)

Let’s do an experiment: Take a sheet of paper and a few crayons. Listen to the YouTube video for ca. sixty seconds starting at 11:48. Then intuitively pick the colors that you feel best match this excerpt. Listen to this section of the piece once again and make a picture of the sounds and tones with the chosen colors while the music is playing. It is not a matter of having to capture everything, but rather to graphically depict an overall mood. What emerges? Dots? Lines? Forms? Send us your drawing!

Within the word “sestina” is the number “sesta,” which is “six” in Italian. A sestina is a very sophisticated poetic form from the twelfth century, a form that provided Krenek with the impulse for this work. Like the poetic form, Krenek worked according to a strict set of rules that placed a numeric principle above the musical expression. With Sestina began Krenek’s intensive occupation with so-called serial compositional technique, that is to say, with the extension of twelve-tone technique. In this piece, the series of numbers or, respectively, the tone rows of six notes each follow the pattern that is to be seen on the YouTube video.

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