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“Six Concert Etudes for Marimba” by Peter Klatzow


“Six Concert Etudes for Marimba” by Peter Klatzow

Performed by Jisu Jung

Mallet Selection for this Piece:


My Six Concert Etudes were commissioned by a consortium of international players. The project initiator and co-ordinator was Daniel Heagney.

It was my concept that the etudes would range from the simple to the complex, from using just two sticks, three sticks, and finally four sticks. The pieces also gain in stature as they proceed to the end.

The first, Juggler, resulted from a technical problem first presented in the last movement of my Concerto no 1 for marimba and strings, in which the marimbists is required to play alternating octaves with just two sticks. This is rarely achieved, but in this performance Jisu Jung shows just how efficiently this can be managed.

Play of Triads (three sticks mostly) is a piece which features alternating triads and dynamics. The main problem lies not just in the agility of the player, but also requires very distinct control over intensities and dynamic shapes.

Melodic Mirage is a challenge to turn the marimba into the human voice. A lyrical cantabile is required which moves effortlessly from one note to the next. In true Italian style, there are many little fioriture (as found in Bellini and Chopin) which embellish the melodic line. I think composers often underestimate the extent to which the marimba can indeed sing (something which was a Robert van Sice speciality) and this etude aims to achieve that quality.

Incantations is a study of contrasting textures – strong, stark octaves juxtaposed against fluid harmonic substrata. They develop longer shapes gradually moving towards resolution. This same type of texture is to be found in the central section of the slow movement of Concerto no 1.

Dazzle is a rhythmic study which pits 5:4. The result is like the incessant patter of raindrops creating a truly dazzling texture which fascinates the ear. There are also smaller rhythmic structures which create patterns of their own.

Whisper of Cypresses, Play of Water is a reminiscence of my visits to the Villa d’Este, just outside Rome, which was a place of retreat for Liszt, whose brooding presence can still be felt there. It is also a study in tremolos, which gradually move up from the bass, through the middle, to the top of the instrument. As with Liszt’s Fountains of the Villa d’Este this piece should be treated as a meditation rather than an opportunity for virtuosic display.

– Peter Klatzow 2014


Peter Klatzow was born in Springs, South Africa, in 1945.

In 1964 he attended the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied composition with Bernard Stevens, piano with Kathleen Long, and orchestration with Gordon Jacob. In that year he won several of the College composition prizes as well as the Royal Philharmonic prize for composition, which was open to any Commonwealth composer under 30. He spent the following years in Italy and Paris, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger.

Since returning to South Africa in 1966, he has worked at the SABC in Johannesburg as a music producer, and in 1973 was appointed to the University of Cape Town, where he was Director of the College of Music and Professor in Composition. In 1986 he was elected to the rank of Fellow of the University of Cape Town for “having performed original distinguished academic work of such quality as to merit special recognition.”

He was awarded his DMus for published work in Composition in 1999, and the Cape Tercentenary Foundation’s Molteno Gold medal for lifetime achievement in Music in 2002.

One of the few South African composers to achieve international recognition, Peter Klatzow has won prizes in Spain, the United Kingdom and Toronto, and his works have been performed in various European centres and in the United States. In South Africa he was awarded the prestigious Helgard Steyn prize for his piano suite From the Poets.

His major works include a full length ballet on Hamlet for which he was given a special Nederburg award for the music, scores for ballets on Drie Diere and Vier Gebede, and Concertos for various solo instruments; piano, clarinet, organ, marimba, and a double Concerto for flute and marimba which was performed at Yale University, USA. , and more recently in Rotterdam, Netherlands. His Prayers and Dances of Praise from Africa was introduced at the Three Choirs Festival, Worcester, UK. on 24 August 1996

Important commissions include The World of Paul Klee (III), composed for the opening of the new Paul Klee Centre in Berne, Switzerland, a celebratory Te Deum for choir, organ and orchestra, commissioned for a special service celebrating the 100th anniversary of St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town and Towards the Light, a work for double choir, marimba and organ commissioned for the opening of the new Peabody concert hall (USA) in April 2004. He was also commissioned by the University of Cape Town to provide a short (20 minute) opera for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the SACM. He was also commissioned by SAMRO to compose a setting of Thabo Mbeki’s speech “I am an African” for use in the international vocal scholarship competition in September 2011. In 2012 he attended a major festival of his marimba works in Tokyo, where he also lectured at the Tokyo Music School and gave master classes on his music.

His discography includes recordings of his piano music, the Mass for Choir, Horn, Marimba and Strings, String Quartet, Chamber Concerto for 7, Piano Concerto, From the Poets, an RCA issue of Return of the Moon with the King’s Singers and Evelyn Glennie, and a CD of his choral music made by the international Herald company entitled Towards the Light – the choral music of Peter Klatzow. His Marimba concerto has been reissued in a new recording made by Markus Leoson and issued by the Swedish label NOSAG in 2006. His CD entitled Myths, Magic and Marimbas – the music of Peter Klatzow was also issued in July 2006. He is now retired from the University of Cape Town, where he remains and is a Professor Emeritus. In 2012 the S A Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded him the Huberte Rupert music prize for his life time work.


Winner of the Grand Prize in the Cheongju Music Association Competition at age 6 after only four years of playing marimba, Percussionist Jisu Jung has won numerous competitions and performed as a soloist with many professional orchestras throughout Korea. Ms. Jung captured the Grand Prize at the 2003 Korea-US National, the CBS Youth Music Competitions in 2007, as well as the Seoul National University Competition in 2010.

She has performed as a soloist with the Oradea-Rumania and Eurasian Philharmonic Orchestras, Gyeonggi State Philharmonic Orchestra, Suwon City Youth Orchestra and was invited to perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in November 2013.

Also an avid orchestral musician, she has performed with the Buchen City Orchestra in Korea and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore, Maryland. This past summer, Ms. Jung attended the Brevard Music Center as a scholarship student and is currently attending the Yellow Barn summer music festival.

Ms. Jung graduated from the Seoul National Arts High School before coming to the United States to study with Robert van Sice at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University with a full scholarship.

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