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In the course of his musical travels Berlioz was frequently asked to write a passage of autograph music in the albums of his various hosts, and a number of such pieces are known (see the listing in the catalogue of his musical works elsewhere on this site). On many occasions Berlioz would simply write out a short excerpt from one of his well-known works, but in a few cases he would actually improvise an original piece on the spot. Such is the case with the piece he wrote in Weimar on 18 February 1855 on the album of the young princess Marie von Sayn-Wittgenstein. For a presentation of this piece see the comments by Pierre-René Serna on a separate page. The piece is transcribed here in full, apparently for the first time (only the first three bars were reproduced in the New Berlioz Edition, vol. 21 p. 97). We are indebted to the Goethe und Schiller-Archiv in Weimar, where the original manuscript is now kept (reference GSA 60/Z 170), for permission to transcribe the piece and reproduce an image of the original.
The piece is of course a joke, as the title already indicates: the French expression ‘faire des châteaux en Espagne’ (‘to build castles in Spain’) is equivalent to ‘indulge in wild fantasies’. The piece is nominally for piano, but only contains music for the right hand, and on the album Berlioz adds the flippant comment: ‘Liszt is requested to provide the bass line!!’. The music itself is nothing more than a long chromatic scale which alternately rises and falls and eventually after 49 bars of meandering peters out on the tonic.
Valse chantée par le vent... (score)
— Score in large format
Valse chantée par le vent... (image of the original document)
(files created on 16.06.2007)
© Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Goethe und Schiller-Archiv for the score and images (reference GSA 60/Z 170) and Michel Austin for the text on this page
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