Russian Dance Suite

Concert Band

Russian Dance Suite

Russische Tanzsuite
Suite in 4 Sätzen

Concert Piece, Suite
Grade Level:
Performance time:
Full Score + Condensed Score + Parts
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In some of his works the composer Kees Vlak dealt with different peoples, their characters, and above all he considered their musical heritages. When he was invited by the symphonic wind band of the Minsk Conservatory of Music, it was this visit that inspired him to write his "Russian Dance Suite". He was struck by the love of the Slavic Byelorussians for their country as well as by their musical tradition. It is somewhat unusual that the folk instrument that is commonly in use there resembles very much the Hungarian cimbalom, and it is not the balaika, an instrument you would think of in the first place.

In the overture the composer expressed his feelings when he was welcomed in Byelorussia and his very first impressions. The Byelorussians appeared to be cosmopolitan, not whimsical at and they are possessed by a forward-pushing energy. The overture therefore is of a forward-pressing nature.

Elegiac Dance
In this movement the composer evokes the bellicose conflicts that took place on Byelorussian soil, and also the state of poverty in which large numbers of the Byelorussian population have to live in.

The composer explains this movement as follows: “The music is reminiscent of Russian history. The 'petrushkas' was as group of people that lived in Moscow and other large cities of the country. It usually consisted of dancers, acrobats, musicians, singers, comedians and frequently also of impostors. During the reign of Ivan IV the Terrible in the 16th century, many of the petrushkas were bereaved of all their goods and chattels.”

The final movement of the suite is a trepak. This lively Russian dance in a way is similar to the Italian tarantella. The character of the Byelorussian people and their innate power are standing out prominently in a rapid sequence of unexpected musical ideas.

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