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Prelude and Black Swan (2010)

After Johannes Brahms’ Intermezzo Op. 118, No.1 & 2
For Orchestra (2010)

1. Prelude to Black Swan

2. Black Swan

Program Note

Prelude and Black Swan—After Johannes Brahm’s Intermezzo Op. 118, No.1 & 2 was part of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s Farewell Commission, celebrating 26 years of brilliant artistic leadership and achievements by the orchestra’s music director, Gerard Schwarz. It was premiered on December 29th, 2010 by the Seattle Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz. The work is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in Bb, two bassoons, four French horns in F, two trumpets in Bb, two trombones, bass trombone, timpani, Harp, and strings. The work is dedicated to Gerard Schwarz.

In 2007, at the request of Gerard Schwarz, I made an orchestral version of Intermezzo Op.118, No.2 for Piano by Johannes Brahms for Echoes—Classical Works Transformed, a recording Maestro Schwarz initiated with the Seattle Symphony as part of Hearmusic—the Sound of Starbucks project. And I titled it Black Swan. Since then, it has been my desire also to make an orchestral version of Intermezzo Op. 118, No.1, as musically No.1 is a perfect set-up for No.2. Now I consider these two a set of two movements, although it is possible to perform them as separate works.

It is my wish that I will be able to orchestrate more of Op. 118, Brahms’ master works from his late period.

—Bright Sheng