Dmitri N. Smirnov/Three Portraits, op. 168a

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Dmitri N. Smirnov/Three Portraits, op. 168a
По русски: Три портрета, op. 168a
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"Three Portraits"

for large symphony orchestra,

op.168a, 2012, ca. 10’

I wanted to present in this work the musical portraits of three artists of the 13th-15th centuries who stood at the beginning of European painting: Giotto, Durer and Rublev, and convey my impression of their works, such as Giotto's frescoes from Capella dei Scrovegni in Padua, particular “Christmas”, “Flight into Egypt”, “Kiss of Judah”; Durer's engravings from the Apocalypse series, especially the “Four Apocalyptic Horsemen”; as well as the icons of Rublev “Trinity” and “Christ Pantocrator”.


Giotto, possibile autoritratto.jpg
Giotto: Possible Self-Portrait, 1310s
Flight into Egypt - Capella dei Scrovegni - Padua 2016.jpg
Giotto: “Flight into Egypt”, 1303-5
Albrecht Dürer - Self-Portrait at 26 - WGA6925.jpg
Durer: Self-Portrait at 26, 1498
Albrecht Dürer - The Four Horsemen (NGA 2008.109.5).jpg
Durer: “The Four Horsemen”, 1498
Andrei Rublev (miniature, 16 c) detail.jpg
Rublev in “The Life of the Reverend Sergyi”, ca. 1592
Angelsatmamre-trinity-rublev-1410.jpg
Rublev: “Trinity”, 1410


I used for this a special technique based on the idea of ​​a musical monogram, conventionally called “cryptophony,” that is, a technique of encoding verbal text using sound names. I have been developing my own version of this technique since 1965 and use it in many of my writings. My coding system gradually changed until it had the following appearance:


Music code 1997: (letter = note)
Музыкальный код 1997 (буква = ноте).jpg


As it can be seen, all the letters of the Latin alphabet here are duplicated according to their sound similarity, and partly coincide with the traditional system used in the music by Bach, Schumann, Shostakovich and many other composers.

Here, in the "Three Portraits", the names of the artists are transmitted by notes, which form melodic and harmonic complexes in such a way that almost the entire musical fabric consists of these sounds.

The first movement is built as a passacaglia with basso ostinato, and is read as GIOTTO:


Three Portraits Examples 0001.png


Then another part of the name of this artist DI BONDONE is gradually built up in the tuba party:


Examples 0002.png


The second movement, as if depicting the flight of four apocalyptic horsemen, immediately begins with a four-fold statement of the name DURER:


Three Portraits Examples 0003.png


The first name of the artist ALBRECHT is stated in batches of bassoons and contrabassoon beginning from bar 11:


Three Portraits Examples 0004.png

The first half of the third movement is entirely built on the name ANDREY. The sounds of this name stratify all the harmony:


Three Portraits Examples 0005.png

Then the same name appears in its full form in the melody, in the parts of the first and second trumpets:

Three Portraits Examples 0006.png


The entire second half of the 3rd movement, beginning in bar 38, is built on a sharply dissonant chord made up of the sounds of the artist’s full name: ANDREY RUBLYOV:


Three Portraits Examples 0008.png
Dmitri N. Smirnov, St. Albans, February 5, 2019