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Two Pieces for Piano, Op. 6


Valery Zhelobinsky


Two Pieces for Piano, Op. 6

  1. Nocturne

  2. Ostinato


Solo piano

Date Information:

Excerpt from the autograph manuscript, opening of Nocturne. Obtained with cooperation of the State Archives in St. Petersburg: 

Composed in 1930, per the autograph manuscript.

Published Editions:

No professionally published editions exist (or so it is assumed). The score of the Nocturne has been typeset by the site owner Chris Mansi, with as minimal editing as possible, to as closely match the autograph as is feasible. The score of the Ostinato is currently being typeset by the site owner, it will be uploaded for access as soon as it has been fully typeset.


The score is still in early stages of examination, as it was only very recently copied for the first time. At first glance, the music is of a generally much more dissonant nature, more in common with the earlier Concertino Op. 2 than with his later compositions. The Nocturne opens in a somewhat sarcastic or ironic nature - more in the style of Shostakovich's Aphorisms for piano. This introductory material seems to be freely written, none of the music appears to be used as a recurring theme or have any other real connection to what follows. Midway through the piece, a tonality of F# Minor begins to be established, centered around a low F# pedal point and recurring accompanying eighth notes above. The upper melody is simple, but coupled with a rather dissonant countermelody in lower-right hand it becomes almost desperate sounding in nature. This idea is built upwards progressively from F# Minor to B Minor -> A Minor -> E Minor, where the initial middle section theme is reintroduced in the new key.  The tonality continues to be warped by additional counter melodies, until a low extended voicing of a D Minor triad appears repeating in the bass. The piece then returns to material reminiscent of the opening section of free atonality, though still not explicitly quoting any themes or motifs from the initial material. The piece ends on a low A in octaves, though to try and say the Nocturne is itself in any real key such as A Minor would be rather tricky, given the only section with real tonality alternates between F# Minor and E Minor, the lack of a key signature and ending note should not be mistaken as an indicator of A Minor. The Ostinato which follows is an even more highly chromatic work, with relatively thick textures for a work of such contrapuntal nature. Just from first appearances, it is possible that this work was a purely "theoretical" exercise demonstrating compositional techniques, its actual playability has yet to be seen (similar to the Concertino Op. 2), there are no references to the work having been performed, though one specific measure in the autograph does briefly specify a fingering for one phrase in the Ostinato, implying that perhaps it was intended for performance.

Notable Performances: 

No performances are known.

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