2nd International Congress of Musicology

Athens Concert Hall, 4-6 November 2003

Paper Abstracts

Nicholas Zumbro

George Tsontakis’ Ghost Variations for Piano

Translation in Greek: Ioannis Fulias

The works of the distinguished Greek-American composer George Tsontakis, such as the four Orchestral Quartets, the Choral Music and his String Quartets, have been recorded and performed in Europe and America with great success, and the 1992 opera Erotokritos attracted a sold out crowd at Lincoln Center. His Percussion Concerto was played recently by the New York Philharmonic and will be performed in Athens by the BBC. The Ghost Variations, 31 minutes in length, is in three unconventional movements, related by references to a familiar Mozart theme. Formally, the first movement appears rhapsodic and mystical, until the startling appearance of the Mozart theme and its variants. The second movement, a disturbing Scherzo, follows, nervous and passionate, with brutal contrasts and with oblique references to Mozart. The third movement, still another, but very different, Scherzo, borrows the jolting rhythms of popular music. The eventual dissolution and a mystical coda lead to the final ghostly appearance of the theme, a hollow knocking, high above the keyboard’s range.

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