RTC-18: 1959 Variations and Toccata for chamber orchestra

Commission: University of Saskatchewan
Length: 11 min.
Completion: 24 May 1959, Vancouver
Premiere: 1959, October, Golden Jubilee Festival Chamber Group, Murray Adaskin (cond.)

  1. 1965-10-26; 1967-01-10; 1968-08-01 – CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra
  2. 1968-09-28, Prairie Chamber Orchestra, Victor Feldbrill (cond.)
  3. 1977-01-18, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Ruben Gurevich (cond.)
  4. 1984-02-21, University of Windsor, School of Music Orchestra
  5. 1992-11-25, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Simon Streatfeild
  6. 1996-02-06, McGill Chamber Orchestra, Bruce Mather (cond.)
  7. n.d. – Regina Symphony Orchestra; Halifax Chamber Orchestra

Publication: BMI

  1. RCA CCS-1009 / Radio Canada International RCI 215
  2. Ovation 4, CBC Records, PSCD 2029
  3. CD – Halifax Chamber Orchestra, Leo Mueller (conductor)
  4. Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, Victor Feldbrill (cond.)
  5. Anthology of Canadian Music: Robert Turner ACM 15, 1983

The work was commissioned by the University of Saskatchewan for its Golden Jubilee Music Festival and first performed by the Festival Chamber Group under the direction of Murray Adaskin in July 1959. It is scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and strings. The composer has supplied the following details on his work: “The two movements are played without a break. The variations are built on two 12-tone rows – the first constructed of four three-note segments and the second derived from the first by taking every second note. This basic material is treated in a free manner and within a tonal framework. The tonal centre of the work is A and the twelve variations follow closely, as in a chaconne (the middle one having a cadenza for solo violin) each in a tonality a semitone higher (A, B-flat, B, C, etc.) leading directly into the Toccata with the return of A. Fast and rhythmic, the Toccata winds up the work in a lighter mood, in contrast to the variations which are rather intense and dramatic.”

The work has been performed by numerous orchestras and recorded by three Canadian orchestras – CBC Vancouver, Halifax and Winnipeg.