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La Saltarella

arranged for symphony orchestra by Mark Starr;
 from Alkan's work for pianoforte, 4-hands)

link to biography of Charles-Valentin Alkan

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The full score of this arrangement for symphony orchestra is available for perusal, audition, purchase, downloading and printing on the website www.sibeliusmusiccom.  To jump to the sheet music online, please click on the following link:

link to display of full score for symphony orchestra on www.sibeliusmusic.com

To display the score on your computer screen -- while listening to a MIDI performance of the music -- one must first download Sibelius' web music viewer, called
Scorch.  Scorch is available free-of-charge on the sibeliusmusic.com website. (Just click on the website's green button marked Get Scorch)

The orchestral materials for Mark Starr's arrangement are available on rental directly from Noteworthy Musical Editions.  Public performances and/or recordings must be licensed by ASCAP.

La saltarella
(or il saltarello)

link to article on history of il saltarello on Wikipedia

This is an orchestration by Mark Starr of Charles-Valentin Alkan's La Saltarella, arranged for full symphony orchestra.  La Saltarella is virtuoso work, originally composed by Alkan circa 1868.  It was published by Edition Richault in two versions: for cello and piano, and for piano 4-hands. It is the latter version that served as the source for my two orchestrations of this piece.  One of my orchestrations is for string orchestra with optional percussion.  The other, the present score, is for full orchestra.

The orchestra is an ideal medium for this exhuberant music. This orchestration for full orchestra is intended as a dazzling showpiece for professional symphony orchestras. Due to historical vicissitudes that are described in detail in my prefatory essay, La Saltarella (in its original forms) has lain virtually unperformed for 14 decades. It is my hope that, in its new orchestral garb, this exhilharating work may now become accessible to modern-day concert audiences, in either the version.

The saltarello is a Neopolitan dance close related to the Sicilian tarantella. The tarantella got its name from the frenetic spasms produced from the bite of a tarantula. Traditionally the tarantella is a dance of death.

The word saltarello means 'little hop.'  Despite its diminutive name, the saltarello also a frenetic dance in a minor key, characterized by fast-moving triplets and dotted rhythms. The principal difference between the two is the syncopated rhythm of the saltarello. As in  jazz, the offbeats of the saltarello are emphasized over the main beats.  As depicted in the 19th Century Italian print above, the saltarello can be danced by two women.

Alkan's colossal saltarello dispenses so much energy over so great a length of time, the imaginary dancers figuratively dance themselves to death in the whirlwind coda.


2 flutes and piccolo
2 oboes
2 clarinets and bass clarinet
2 bassoons and contrabassoon

4 horns
3 trumpets
3 trombones

3 percussion:
     bass drum
     tambourine basque
     snare drum

duration: 6 minutes