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Eduard Tubin (1905-1982) - Prélude Solennel

In 1938 Kodály advised Tubin - who as a lad had enjoyed tootling his flute whilst herding swine! -  to renew his interest in his native Estonia’s folk-music. Within two years the Soviets, courtesy of the Nazi non-aggression pact, had muscled in (again), and put the mockers on artistic freedom. Tubin clearly didn’t like this, because by 1944 he had ducked out into Sweden. Sadly, his eminence as a composer didn’t follow. 

It would be easy to view the Prélude Solennel as an Estonian “Finlandia” - and why not? It stirs my blood, and I’m not even Estonian!. An oppressive, convoluted brassy unison “imprisons” the theme. Escaping, it first becomes a rallying cry then, successively, a gruff, angry growl, a rabble-rousing battle-march, a welling song of hope and finally, impelled by an even angrier growl, a noble, stoic conclusion - surely, the perfect ingredients for a dish designed to stimulate the digestive juices of any lover of freedom, Estonian or otherwise? 

Note originally commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony for a concert given on 23 April 2005

© Paul Serotsky
29, Carr Street, Kamo, Whangarei 0101, Northland, New Zealand


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