Zilinskis - Elegy: In Autumn


The Elegy from Scenes from Childhood is set for the ABRSM Grade 5 piano exam, 2011 - 2012.

Zilinskis (1905-93) was a Latvian composer who grew up in a farming family, returning to Latvia following his reluctant displacement to Southern Ukraine due to the First World War.

Zilinskis wrote numerous piano pieces and songs that were enjoyed by children on his visits to schools, where he began to give concerts after his graduation from Riga Conservatoire in 1933. This Elegy is one of several pieces that seem to show the composer's love for the Latvian countryside.

Practice Tips

Be sure of the melody lines - practise these separate from the harmony parts.

Learn the chord progressions a section at a time, moving between chords without including the melody lines.

Next focus on the complete music, learning section by section, slowly enough to be accurate at first.

Devote plenty of time to the middle section of the piece, beginning at Bar 13, so that this is just as confident as the outer sections.

Do not neglect to practise with the expressive detail from early on in the learning process - practise with a musical intention rather than just to learn the notes.

Listen to whether the melody can be heard - this is essential.

Work on making the final phrase really secure as this is where mistakes often happen.

Pay attention to clarity when pedalling - a rich sound is required and the bass notes need to be sustained for as long as possible, but do not blur the harmonies.

Final Performance

An excellent performance of this piece will demonstrate a lovely singing tone for the melody lines, with the harmony chords and bass notes sensitively balanced. The interpretation will express the somewhat melancholy, indeed Autumnal, mood with plenty of dynamic variety and lyrical phrasing.

A good performance will demonstrate fluency and accuracy, with some feel for the character of the music shown in use of musical detail although the degree of technical poise will be less convincing than in an excellent performance.

A sound performance will have continuity and sufficient accuracy to give a sense of the flowing character, even though attention to musical detail and mood may be limited.

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