Stefan Wolpe - Suite from the Twentiess

« back to the biography
klar. bklar. altosax. trp. trbn. 2vl. vc. bj. pno.
Geert van Keulen
Peer Musikverlag, Hamburg
This composition has been played by the Ebony Band
'Dancing, the jazzfever of Milhaud, Martinu, Seiber, Burian and Wolpe' Channel Classics, CCS 30611

In the early works of Stefan Wolpe from the 1920s, atonality and jazz influences are clearly heard alongside one another. No other composer of the period succeeded in combining these two divergent musical worlds in such a refined and inventive manner. Geert van Keulen (composer and former bass clarinettist in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) orchestrated a number of piano pieces from this period on the request of the Wolpe Society (Canada). Under the title Suite from the Twenties they were first performed in New York (92Y) in 2002 directed by Werner Herbers.


"In my arrangement of piano pieces by Wolpe, published under the collective title Suite from the Twenties, I have not only attempted to make these sometimes slightly diffuse and unfathomable pieces clearer and easier to follow, but also to throw light on the stylistic context. For example, the proximity of Kurt Weil in Blues and Marsch no.1 is rather clear; but in my view Wolpe's interest in the music of Schönberg, particularly his Serenade op. 24 (1923), is perceptible in pieces like the Tango (1926), Tanz (Charleston/1929) and Rag-Caprice (1927).

By means of motivic treatment and choice of instruments I have tried to make these relationships more audible, without violating the originality of these astonishing compositions". 

Geert van Keulen