La Follia – revisit

On September 18, we rehearsed Vivaldi’s Trio Sonata in D-minor RV63 “La Folia” using a rearranged Bb (g minor) score for recorder, violin and cello. “La Folia” is one of the old European musical themes. There are 2 versions, the “later Folia” has a standard chord progression (i-V-i-VII / III-VII-[i or VI]-V / i-V-i-VII / III-VII-[i or VI7]-V[4-3sus]-i) and composers over many generations used it to compose the variations (see video on the right).

“La Folia” composed by Arcangelo Corelli, influenced on the development of violin playing. Shinichi Suzuki arranged, rewrote it and published in “Suzuki Violin School Vol.6” for young violinists. I learned this piece when I was in middle school. I performed it with the accompaniment by pianist Eko Ishida in a Church Christmas Celebration.    

Chamber Artists Orchestra (CHAARTS) performed Corelli’s “La Folia” on 416 Hz pitch modern instruments, and baroque bows. 

I stayed at University dorm during one summer in my college years. When I practiced violin in the nearby classes building, Ms. Lin approached me and we talked. She is 3 years senior than me and played violin, too. Later, we became friends and played duet. Before she went to study in France, she gave me her “La Folia” score that has her practicing notes. We lost contacts afterward. Recently, I found this video — “Henryk Szeryng plays Corelli’s La Folia” which is exactly the same score as that Ms. Lin gave to me (except the 7 rest measures in the last Adagio section). A beautiful memory….  

Video on the right is a performance of rearranged Marin Marais’  “Folies d’Espagne” by Les Délices, an early music ensemble.    

From Wikipedia “Folia” (Historical significance): Jean-Baptiste Lully, along with Philidor l’aîné[1] in 1672, Arcangelo Corelli in 1700, Marin Marais in 1701, Alessandro Scarlatti in 1710, Antonio Vivaldi in his Opus 1 No. 12 of 1705, Francesco Geminiani in his Concerto Grosso No. 12 (which was, in fact, part of a collection of direct transcriptions of Corelli’s violin sonatas), George Frideric Handel in the Sarabande of his Keyboard Suite in D minor HWV 437 of 1727, and Johann Sebastian Bach in his Peasants’ Cantata of 1742 are considered to highlight this “later” folia repeating theme in a brilliant way. 


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