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FastNotes

  • Hilary Hahn commissioned a short work from García Abril for her encore project In 27 Pieces. (The recording of the project won a Grammy®.) This prompted her to ask him to create some larger, solo polyphonic pieces for violin.
  • The result was Six Partitas. Hahn premiered the first three last season, and is premiering the second half of the set on her recitals this season. Each movement is inspired by an aspect of the violinist herself, as perceived by the composer

One of Spain’s most honored musicians, Antón García Abril was the head of the composition department of the Royal Conservatory in Madrid for over 25 years. His concert music includes a distinguished body of guitar music (numerous solos, as well as a concerto), and the opera Divinas Palabras, which starred Plácido Domingo in its 1997 premiere for the re-opening of the Teatro Real.

He has also composed numerous film scores, mostly for horror and western movies. Hilary Hahn commissioned a short work from García Abril for her encore project In 27 Pieces. (The recording of the project won a Grammy.) This prompted her to ask him to create some larger, solo polyphonic pieces for violin.

“I noticed in his solo writing he had a real gift for polyphony in solo violin and it seemed that polyphony was one of his building blocks of composition,” Hahn said in an interview with Mark Rudio for the blog A Beast in a Jungle. “It’s a very traditional technique – basically it means you have multiple lines, multiple voices going at the same time on one instrument, so it's kind of a balancing act. It’s used a lot on piano because on piano you have so many keys, and you have ten fingers, so it’s possible to do many things simultaneously. But on the violin you have four strings, and the four strings provide a framework that is challenging for polyphony.”

The result was Six Partitas. Hahn premiered the first three last season, and is premiering the second half of the set on her recitals this season. Unlike Bach’s partitas for solo violin, these are not dance suites, but single movements, each inspired by an aspect of the violinist herself, as perceived by the composer. Each of the six works has a title – Heart, Immensity, Love, Art, Reflexive, You – and the first letters of the titles spell “Hilary.”

“That is a meaningful project for me, because I sensed that Mr. García Abril would write a fantastic set of pieces if I could convince him to take on the assignment,” Hahn said in an interview for the blog The Well-Tempered Ear. “He decided to do it and the music turned out to be more wonderful and inspiring to play than I could have imagined. It feels like those phrases breathe with me and the notes fit in my hands.”

John Henken is Publications Editor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.