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ProduitsPartitions pour guitareGuitare et un autre instrumentDialogues from Invisible Cities

Dialogues from Invisible Cities
  • DO1456 Dialogue 1

  • DO1456 Dialogue 2

  • DO1456 Dialogue 3

Dialogues from Invisible Cities

Compositeur: GOSS Stephen

DO 1456


ISBN: 978-2-89796-236-4

Guitare et violon

8 p. + partie séparée


Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel, Invisible Cities, has no plot or character development. It is a meticulously structured collection of 55 prose-poem descriptions of cities, framed by dialogues between the Venetian explorer Marco Polo and the Mogul emperor Kublai Khan.

As the novel progresses it becomes clear that Polo’s narrations are often exaggerated or entirely fanciful.

In , Marco Polo is portrayed by the violin, and Kublai Khan by the guitar.

In the first dialogue, Polo has arrived at the Khan’s court and is instructed to travel through the emperor’s kingdom and report on the places he visits.

In the second, Marco describes the fantastic cities he has seen through signs and emblems, which the Khan has to interpret. The two speak completely different languages and frequently interrupt one another. Marco’s music is wild, gestural, and varied, the Khan’s more statesmanlike.

In the final dialogue, they sit in silence for long periods. They now speak the same language, but the shift from gesture to words is seen as a loss.

“Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased.”

The Dialogues from Invisible Cities are taken from my 2017 concerto Invisible Cities, for violin, guitar, strings, and percussion. The concerto borrows structural and thematic ideas from Calvino’s novel. Five main movements evoke specific categories of fantastical cities: these are separated by dialogues between the two soloists which also comprise this standalone piece for violin and guitar.

Invisible Cities was commissioned by Nicolò Spera with funds from the University of Colorado. The first performance was given by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra at the Macky Auditorium, Boulder, on 22nd April 2017. The soloists were Nicolò Spera and Charles Wetherbee and the conductor was Michael Butterman.

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