Fabio Grasso

12 Études triptyques pour piano, 2018


© Fabio Grasso


This collection contains 12 Etudes, divided into 3 groups.

GROUP A - Intervalles

Etudes of instrumental virtuosity, traditionally connected with the intervals.

A1 - Secondes, Neuvièmes (Seconds, Ninths)

A2 - Tierces, Sixtes (Thirds, Sixths)

A3 - Quartes, Quintes (Fourths, Fifths)

A4 - Octaves


GROUP B - Harmonies

Etudes characterized by particular types of harmonic organization

B1 - En blanc et noir (In white and black)

B2 - Dodécaphonie tricordale (Trichordal Dodecaphony)

B3 - Dodécaphonie triadique (Triadic Dodecaphony)

B4 - Quadriades (Quadriads)


GROUP C - Von heimatlichen Ländern und Tönen

Etudes that mainly explore the sonorities, with free inspiration (see below)

C1 - Terres d'eau (Waterlands)

C2 - Florentia

C3 - Une barque ... à travers les ... brouillards (A boat ... through the ... mists)

C4 - Sous le regard de Sainte Croix (Under the glance of Sainte Croix)


As a general rule, the interpreter must play at least one "triptych", formed by one Etude of the Group A, one Etude of the Group B and one Etude of the Group C, in any order and combination, without breaks, like an unique piece.

The interpreter can choose to play 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 triptychs; therefore one will play 3, 6, 9 or all 12 Etudes, and not single Etudes nor quantities different from the multiples of 3.

Of course it is not allowed to repeat any Etude - each triptych has to contain different Etudes.



The music and the titles of this work show, openly or criptically, several homages to the tradition of the Etudes, from Chopin and Liszt through Debussy, Skrjabin and Rachmaninov to Ligeti, and to a certain 20th-century French repertoire (above all Debussy and Ravel, but also Messiaen and Ohana).

It is easy to understand the compositional principles of the Etudes of the Group A (in which the reminiscences of Chopin, Liszt, Ravel and Skrjabin are sometimes clearly perceivable), as well as those of B4 (whose tissue is exclusively composed by four-sound aggregations, more or less recognizable as historical chords), and of B1, that lives on the relations between the harmonic fields defined by the opposition of white and black keys.

The twelve-tone sets of B3 and B2 are respectively founded on 4 triads (two minor and two major, with the fundamental notes at the distance of one tone) and 4 trichords, whose three notes are likewise at the distance of one tone (an Italian 20th-century compositional school named "trichordal" the harmonic system based on this element).


The general title of the Group C is a paraphrase of the first title of Schumann's Kinderszenen ("Von fremden Ländern und Menschen", "From foreign lands and men"). The variation "Von heimatlichen Ländern und Tönen", that can be translated "From home- lands and tones", reflects the link of the inspiration of these four Etudes with some places, very special for the life, the formation and the activity of the author: for C1 the apparently uniform countryside around Vercelli, for C2 the florentine hills (with its double meaning the Latin word Florentia represents both the ancient name of Florence and a description of the flowery writing), for C3 the Venetian landscape shrouded in mist (the title mixes three Ravel's and Debussy's titles, "Une barque sur l'océan", "Cloches à travers les feuilles" and "Brouillards"; so the piece is entirely built on quotations of these works).


As regards C4, Sainte Croix is the cathedral of Orléans, that dominates the space near the Conservatory, where the International Piano Competition takes place.

The Etude (the longest piece of the collection) aims to evoke the memory of this majestic two-towers sacred building, whose austere and mysterious outline, at times almost frightening, at times protective, deeply fascinated the composer during his stays in the French city.

So this series of Etudes as a whole is dedicated to the founder of the Competition, Françoise Thinat.