• details

    • Order numbers: AM 168-010
      Hal Leonard # 4006177
    • Instrumentation: wind orchestra
    • Duration: 8'
    • Grade: 5
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Da Vinci (A Study on Ivory Keys)

A Study on Ivory Keys
Johan de Meij

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What has always has fascinated me in uomo universalis Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is his enormous curiosity about everything that moved and lived in his world. In addition to being a gifted painter and visual artist, he was also an astrologer, urban planner, architect, inventor, engineer, philosopher, physicist, chemist, anatomist, sculptor, writer and composer. Da Vinci’s story stirred my own curiosity and creativity. It spurred me to experiment with my musical material. I wondered what music I could invent with, for instance, using only the ivory keys of the piano.

DA VINCI opens with a grand, massive chord over five octaves throughout the orchestra. This chord, the Da Vinci Chord, is the connective tissue between the various sections. In the opening sequence, The Vitruvian Man, I experimented with the symmetry of the Da Vinci Chord with ascending and descending cluster chords. In Mona Lisa, a recorder quartet suddenly emerges from the ensemble, to play a motet by Da Vinci’s contemporary Josquin Des Prez: "In te Domine speravi" (In You We Trust My Lord). Rapid ascending phrases in Vola, Vola! illustrate Da Vinci's passionate desire to fly. The Florentine designed various aircrafts, some of which could actually get off the ground, as later studies have shown. In Macchinario (machineries) I played around with the interval D-A, the first two letters of his last name, until the Da Vinci Chord abruptly bridges into a repeat of Vola, Vola! Virtuoso passages swirl through the entire ensemble and suggest a daring trip through the skies. With the Da Vinci Chord we finally end on a radiant C major chord, as an ode to one of the greatest geniuses of all time.

Johan de Meij
New York, February 2019