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A Study of Barcarolle, Op. 44 by Anatoly Lyadov

Analyze A. Lyadov’s compositional techniques, elements, form, and
characteristics of his Barcarolle, Op. 44.


The focus of this study is to analyze Anatoly Lyadov’s composition techniques, elements, characteristics and musical form of his Barcarolle, Op. 44. Simple musical forms such as binary or ternary ones were adopted the most in A. Lyadov’s small-scale works. Despite most of his piano works are character pieces instead of large-scale ones, the use of a wide variety of musical ideas in these short pieces creates delicate, charming, well-formatted and high-quality fine piano works. This project also highlights the similarity between A. Lyadov’s piano works and makes a conclusion about his composition techniques and characteristics. Also, in the respect of interpretation, this study might provide a reference basis to whoever plays A. Lyadov’ s works.

A. Lyadov: Barcarolle, Op. 44

I. The characteristics of Antony Lyadov’s Piano works

Due to its inaccessibility from the rest of the world, Russia has been considered a remote country. Until nineteenth century, as national policy began to take westernized, its mysterious mask has been uncovered gradually, and the world, by degrees, became more familiar with its musical culture as well, but also due to this reason, its development of music has its own style and characteristics. Barcarolle, Op 44. is a piano solo piece composed by Anatoly Lyadov, of whom most works are Bagatelle music, and this Barcarolle is one of his Bagatelle. This Barcarolle is based on Continuous Ternary Form with six-eight time. Section types consists of symmetrical period, asymmetrical period and double period, the modulations among these sections are extraneous, chromatic, enharmonic, and common-tone modulation. The phrases are usually connected with variations in between. Barcarolle has an beautiful melody lines to be its theme. This is not only for humming but also for developing theme more easily in the rest of other phrases.

With much polyrhythm two against three, or five against three, etc., phrases can enhance the melodic flowing and the tension; as for harmony, Barcarolle adopts common-chord and chromatic modulations to increase the diversity and color of harmony.

A. Lyadov’s piano works are usually short pieces in small-scale, such as preludes, character pieces, intermezzos, and etudes, which are also very significant compositional forms in Romanticism. Among his good many works, preludes are the most. Owing to all of the pieces, this research is able to do research and make a conclusion on the texture, characteristics, and common style of A. Lyadov’s compositions for keyboard instrument.

In his early period, he composed Birioulki, Op. 2, and Arabesques, Op.4. These two collections of works show that the composer has an inclination to adopt three or four musical lines simultaneously, and this feature maintains in most of his late-period works. The feature exists in his first piano work Birioulki, Op. 2, which includes fourteen different pieces, 4 Preludes, Op.13, 2 Mazurkas, Op. 15, Novellette, Op.20, Sur la prairie, Op. 23, Idylle, Op. 25 (refer to Fig. 1), Petite Valse, Op. 26, 3 Preludes, Op. 27, 2 Morceaux, Op. 31, 3 Morceaux, Op. 33, 3 Canons, Op. 34 and Variations sur un thème de Glinka, Op. 35, etc. It even exists in his late work 4 Morceaux, Op. 64.

Fig.1. Idylle, Op. 25. mm. 1–5

Also, in many of his works, polyrhythm (three against two, four against six, or five against three) was employed frequently. This creates an uncertainty quality and gives the melodies a much flowing and continuous sound effects. Etude, Op. 5, 2 Intermezzos, Op. 7, Scherzo for Orchestra, Op.16, 3 Preludes, Op. 36, 4 Preludes, Op. 39, 3 Morceaux, Op. 57 display a great amount of polyrhythm, especially etude, Op. 37 (refer to Fig. 2), five against two polyrhythm is applied through the entire piece.

Fig. 2. Etude, Op. 37. mm 1 & 2

For horizontal characteristics, it is common to see rests at beginnings of phrases in right hands while the tonics or dominants are being written for left hands to fill the vacancies of those melody lines. It can also enhance the fluency of those melodies. As shown in 3 Morceaux, Op. 10 (refer to Fig. 3), the first note of right hand is a rest, and the left hand plays the tonic with a longer duration.

Fig. 3. 3 Morceaux, Op. 10. mm. 1–5

In the aspect of harmony, extraneous, chromatic, and enharmonic modulations are adopted the most in his keyboard works. For instance, Arabesques, Op. 4, from his early period, includes all of above three compositional techniques to do the modulations.

Fig. 4. Marionettes, Op. 29. mm. 74–76

The first piece adopts enharmonic modulation, second one uses chromatic modulation and the fourth one applies distantly related key modulation. Therefore, the work comes with more harmonic complexity.

It is worth mentioning that Lyadov once learned violin at his young age. Therefore, as we can see, there are, sometimes, “slurs” appear in some of Lyadov’s piano compositions which might come from the notation for string family. For example, the thirteenth piece from Birioulki, Op. 2, 3 Morceaux, Op. 10, 3 Morceaux, Op. 11, No.3 (refer to Fig. 5), 2 Mazurkas, Op. 15, Petite Valse, Op. 26.

Fig. 5. 3 Morceaux, Op. 11, No. 3, mm. 1 - 10

From Lyadov’s late output such as 3 Bagatelles, Op. 53, 3 Morceaux, Op. 57 (refer to Fig. 6) and 4 Morceaux, Op. 64 (refer to Fig. 7), one can find that the adoptation of terms for changing tempo increases to a great extent.

Fig. 6. 3 Morceaux, Op. 57, mm. 41-48

There are many speed-related instructions such as accelerando, ritardando and A tempo marked in the scores, which may create a quality of greater tension.

Fig. 7. 4 Morceaux, Op. 64. mm. 1–8

II. Form and Analysis
Barcarolle is structured in continuous ternary form. The cadence for section A is on I of F sharp major (dominant), which indicates the section is harmonically incomplete. Besides, section B are independent from section A, which makes the music form a continuous Ternary Form (refer to chart.1).

Barcarolle, Op. 44 was composed with three symmetrical periods, one asymmetrical Period and one double Period. Phrases often varied in similar elements of previous ones and were usually composed in four melody lines. Section A is a symmetrical period, the phrase are made up of motif A and Motif B (refer to Fig. 8)。The upper voices of phrases in section A are mostly dyads, and those melodies are usually presented in ascending or descending scales (refer to Fig. 9).

Fig. 8. mm. 1–3
Fig. 9. mm. 7–9

Dominant chord of F sharp major is employed to modulate the phrase to C sharp major, and stabilize the IAC (imperfect authentic cadence) on C sharp major for section A.

The phrase in the ninth measure is a bridge for section A and section A’. The beginning of the bridge is similar with the first phrase of section A. The sixths at the beginning and thirds at the end make this bridge a reasonable connection between the two phrases. The common chord modulation is adopted in the second phrase in fourteenth measure (refer to Fig. 10) in section A’. The usage of iv of b minor, which is the parallel key of B major, appear to be the common chord for the phrase to modulate to D major, which is the relative major. Lastly, using IAC at the end of the section.

Section B is also a symmetrical period. The bass line of section B is mainly an expansion from I from D major. A descending sequence built on thirds are used to end the phrase (refer to Fig. 11). A great number of nonharmonic tones are added in phrase e’, which last for four measures, in order to make the melody line more interesting and colorful. There is a chromatic scale in the twenty-first measure. The usage of chromatic modulation appears and modulate to the relative minor. The phrase e’ end with a deceived cadence Vvi, and a common chord vi of D major is employed to be the i of b minor to modulate to b minor.

Fig. 10. mm. 14–15

The phrase f includes bass notes B to stabilize the tonality. Because of the chords of B major- I, V and vii, the phrase owns a beautiful singing accompaniment. The right-hand part has descending and ascending sequence, which can expend the original melody line. Lastly, dominant chord of b minor appears in order to modulate to the parallel key- B major. Following phrase f, this two- measure transition is made up of motif c and motif d. By sequence, the transition creates a feeling of tension. It starts on B major, and modulate to D major by chromatic modulation.

Fig. 11. mm. 18–19

Section A’’ is made up of three phrases a’’ , a’’’ and a’’’’, which makes it an asymmetrical period. These three phrases are all the variation of phrase a. Phrase a’’ lasts four measures.

Fig. 12. Mm. 22–23

The usage of figure for accompaniment is quite similar with transition. The use of pedal and octaves can stabilize the tonality (refer to Fig. 13).

Fig. 13. Mm. 28–29

The melody line in phrase a’’ is different from other phrases, it appears in low register for left hand, and the phrase ends in a HC (half cadence) (refer to Fig. 14).

Fig. 14. mm. 30- 31

At the beginning of the thirty-second measure, there is a diminished chord of its subdominant key, which creates a sense of conflict for hearing. Moreover, phrase a’’’ includes many octaves with thirds inside to creates a much deeper sound effect. (refer to Fig. 15)

Fig. 15. mm. 32- 35

The phrase a’’’’ ends in imperfect authentic cadence. The Coda lasts for twentyone measures and can be divided into two separate parts. The first part would be a symmetrical period which lasts for thirteen measures and ends in a half cadence. The second one of this part lasts nine measures. The motif a appears twice in high register of this phrase.

The second part of coda is an extension of I (F sharp major). The theme melody is hidden in the middle line. This part includes three phrases, the former two of which are formed with the same music elements but in different registers (refer to Fig. 16). The F sharp notes in the bass line keep repeating on every downbeat along with the dominant C sharp notes, and the use of pedal, can not only produce a deeper, heavier and persistent sound but also create a feeling of V going to I. Lastly, the coda ends in chord I.

Fig. 15. mm. 53–56

III. Conclusion
Because the composition methods were highly valued by Lyadov, in these works, the music forms and harmony are quite conventional. Inheriting the traditional music characters and forms from romanticism, Lyadov can still show specific personal characteristics and style. Lyadov started his composition since 1876. In all of his works, the techniques for pianists are not quite demanding. Nevertheless, Lyadov’s piano work are still brilliant by showing his creativity and talents by adopting various composition techniques, such as broken chords, extension of bass notes, inversion, imitation and sequence.

The motifs of Barcarolle, Op. 44 are clear and simple; nevertheless, Lyadov applied delicate composition techniques to thematic development. Among all his works, beautiful melodies are usually the main themes, which aren’t only make these pieces easier to sing but are also helpful to develop themes in every different sections. As for rhythm, polyrhythm such as two against three, three against four, or five against six are used to a great extent to create melodic fluency. Besides, this can also change the mood, color and atmosphere of sound effects. Harmonic diversity in his music is quite obvious. The changes in texture, the adaptation of common-chord, chromatic, or enharmonic modulation and the change of speed-related term take the credit for this.

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