Despax has recently released a piano fantasy based on the themes of The Sound of Music, in celebration of the musical’s 60th anniversary. The piece pays tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beautiful and iconic melodies, adding a few jazz and classical influences:
“There is a long tradition in classical music of virtuoso instrumental transcriptions based on opera, from Carmen fantasies to various Liszt transcriptions, and I wanted to do the same with a musical.
I have wonderful childhood memories watching The Sound of Music with my family, and I wanted to pay tribute to these beautiful melodies. This piece has influences ranging from jazz to classical composers like Ravel, Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin, Godowsky and Rachmaninov. There is even a small one bar quote from Debussy’s L’isle joyeuse, one of my favourite piano works hidden in there. At the start, I set out to write a small simple work using one theme, but it quickly became much more ambitious in scope. In the words of Ravel describing Scarbo, one of the most fearsome works of the piano repertoire: “perhaps I let myself get carried away”.
– Emmanuel Despax