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Innovation and invention in Ohana’s Si le jour paraît for 10-string guitar

Rae, Caroline ORCID: 2016. Innovation and invention in Ohana’s Si le jour paraît for 10-string guitar. Presented at: International Guitar Research Conference (IGRC), University of Surrey, 18-23 March 2016.

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Ohana started work on Si le jour paraît… in 1963, the year he celebrated his watershed half-century birthday. This first of Ohana’s works for the then newly developed 10-string classical guitar is placed at a pivotal position within his creative output, and sits on the threshold of the new compositional flowering that defined his self-declared compositional maturity from the middle 1960s onwards. Appropriately for a composer who drew symbolic inspiration from arrival at the dawn of his second half-century, Si le jour paraît… is a watershed work. While Ohana’s music of the 1950s drew on a range of Spanish inspirational sources, Si le jour paraît… confirmed his new direction towards a less obviously derivative style through fusing elements of his beloved Cante Jondo with a range of Debussian textures and colours made possible by the expanded harmonic landscape of the instrument’s additional strings. In taking Goya as the work’s compositional point of departure, Ohana links his personal web of allusions not only with Debussy but also with Chopin to suggest a world of, for him, Goyesque lamentation that is progressively transformed into the serenity of a mythological Arcadia. This paper provides a reassessment of this pivotal work, which has often been overlooked not least because of the delay of its premiere and significant technical difficulties of its performance. Through exploring the Debussian as well as Goyesque and even Chopinesque elements of Ohana’s language, it will be shown how Si le jour paraît… draws as much from the lessons of the instrument for it was written as from the musical ideas that inspired Ohana’s thinking, and is as a result one of the great works of 20th century guitar repertoire.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 08:39

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