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The Chagall Suite

A commissioned 8-movement piano piece inspired by Marc Chagall's artworks, and a tribute to Chagall and Elvis


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The Chagall Suite

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The Chagall Suite is an eight-movement piano suite inspired by eight themes of Marc Chagall's artworks: Vitebsk (his Belarusian hometown), the Bible, the circus, lovers and flowers, Jesus and Isaiah, Paris, nature, and angels. The piece was commissioned by Chagall scholar and lecturer Vivian R. Jacobson and her husband, Ralph, in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. Mrs. Jacobson also commissioned "Conversations," an improvisatory musical meeting of Chagall and Elvis Presley, which fuses together Russian classical themes, klezmer, rock, blues, jazz, and gospel. It was composed to complement Mrs. Jacobson's lecture on Elvis and Chagall.

I have performed both pieces in Germany, France, and the USA, and I recorded them on my 62-minute CD Conversations With Chagall, available at CD Baby.

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Trk Title/Preview link Description
1 CONVERSATIONS (11:34) A musical meeting between Marc Chagall and Elvis Presley. The piece is a synthesis of Russian-style classical themes, Jewish klezmer music, romantic ballads, rock, blues, and gospel.
THE CHAGALL SUITE -- eight movements inspired by Chagall's artworks
2 I. Vitebsk (7:44) A day in the life of Chagall's provincial Belarusian hometown, with themes suggesting the sunrise, prayer, work, school, and Chagall's ubiquitous "fiddler on the roof."
3 II. The Bible (7:22) A trip through the Creation, winding up slowly and becoming more active until God rests from His work at the end.
4 III. The Circus (4:12) In a quick 7/8 meter, with episodes suggesting clumsy animals, graceful dancers, swift acrobats, and snake charmers.
5 IV. Lovers and Flowers (7:04) Begins with an expanding chord, like the blossoming of a flower, which supports a tranquil melody and eventually gives way to a lovers' waltz.
6 V. The Prince of Peace, Jesus, and the Prophet of Peace, Isaiah (7:01) Dominated by a placid, consonant barcarolle, which quickens and intensifies, supporting a bright melody.
7 VI. Paris (4:21) Anchored by a grand fanfare, which is repeated at intervals and interspersed with interludes suggesting stately architecture, amorous waltzers, and the city's frenetic pace.
8 VII. Nature (6:13) Nature is based on symmetry; the movement's chord structure and melodies evoke symmetry and geometry.
9 VIII. Angels (6:40) Suggests some of the harmonic progressions of the earlier movements, and it becomes bright and bold before returning to the "sunrise" theme of the first movement.

All material composed and performed by Seth Weinstein
Conceived, supervised, and produced by Vivian R. Jacobson
Recording produced by Marc Lewis
Public relations and promotion by Joshua Weinstein
Recorded by Sean Swinney, New York City, on May 15 and 17, 2008
Edited, mixed, and mastered by Chip M. Fabrizi, PPI Recording, New York City
Graphic design by Alison DeBenedictis and Kim Gilley
Cover drawing by Marc Chagall
Photo by David Nicoll
All tracks (C) and (P) 2005-2008 Seth Weinstein. All rights reserved.

Performances and press

21 August 2005 Memphis, Tennessee Dixon Gallery and Gardens
17-18 February 2007 Southern Pines, North Carolina Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities
Review: "Jacobsons' Commissioned 'Suite' a Joy"
22 June 2008 New York City Googie's Lounge
18 September 2008 Osnabrück, Germany Lutherhaus
23 September 2008 Mainz, Germany Erbacher Hof
26 September 2008 Siegburg (Bonn), Germany Siegburger Stadtmuseum
Review in German: "Ein Weltstar ganz ohne Alluren" ("A world star without affectations")
English translation
25 October 2008 Appleton, Wisconsin Appleton Art Center
30 October 2008 New York City Museum of Biblical Art
8 November 2009 Newport Beach, California Temple Bat Yahm
28 March 2010 Pocantico Hills, New York Union Church of Pocantico Hills
25 September 2010 Nice, France Musée national Marc Chagall
10 March 2013 Newton, Massachusetts Temple Emanuel
11 October 2015 Cleveland, Ohio Church of the Covenant
19 November 2017 Annapolis, Maryland Congregation Kneseth Israel

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