Spanish Serenade for Viola and Piano
Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov's Spanish Serenade was originally composed for Viola and Orchestra. It was an instant hit and the publisher immediately made an edition for viola and piano. But demand was so great that subsequently several different arrangements appeared. (Our soundbite is an arrangement for cello and guitar--we were unable to find a recording for viola). The Spanish Serenade, which dates from 1897, is one of several occasional pieces he wrote at this time including his Suite for Violin and Piano.
Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) was born in the town of Gatchina, near St. Petersburg. He studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After graduating, he obtained the position of Director of the Tiflis (Tbilisi) Music Academy. He spent the next seven years in the Georgian capital, also holding the post of conductor of the city's orchestra. It was during this time that he developed his life-long interest in the music of the Georgian region and many of his compositions reflect this, the most famous being his Caucasian Sketches. In 1893, he became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory and later served as its director for two decades. He composed in all genres.
Generally unavailable today, this short work can be used on a program between two longer ones or as a charming encore. Amateurs will certainly enjoy it as well.