Valborg Aulin (1860−1928)

Tableaux Parisiens, suite pour orchestra
Scenes Parisiennes, orchestral suite

opus 15


1. Vie bruyante dans le lointain
2. Dans la calme de nuit
3. Scène de bal
4. Un soir de fête à Trocadero

  • Year of composition: 1886
  • Work category: Orchestral works in several movements
  • Dedication: à Monsieur Conrad Nordquist
  • Duration: Approx. 20-25 min

Instrumentation / / timp, 1 perc, hp / str

Examples of printed editions

Edition Levande musikarv, Stockholm 2019. Critical edition by Cristian Marina.

  • Location autograph: Musik- och teaterbiblioteket
  • Possible call no. and autograph comment: Valborg Aulin's archive. Score.

Description of work

1. Vie bruyante dans le lointain ou entend sonner les carillons qui se mêlent avec les sons d'un orgue: Allegro vivace e con brio E-flat major 3/4
2. Dans la calme de nuit: Andante F major 4/4 (C)
3. Scène de bal: Tempo di valse E major 3/4
4. Un soir de fête à Trocadero: Tempo di marcia B major 4/4 (C)

Work comment

In the spring of 1885, Valborg Aulin was awarded the prestigious Jenny Lind scholarship by Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music), which gave her the opportunity to further her education under, among others, Benjamin Godard in Paris. The main focus of her instruction was orchestration and instrumentation. In addition to the lessons, Aulin attended many orchestral concerts that were significant experiences for her. In a letter from the trip, Aulin mentions that Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz made a strong impression on her. She further writes that Jules Massenet’s orchestral suite Scènes alsaciennes provided her with the initial motivation ‘for the composition with which I am currently engaged’. The work that Aulin began composing in Paris was the orchestral suite Tableaux Parisiens.

The suite was composed under Godard's supervision and Aulin decided to send it home to the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien as proof of what she accomplished during the trip. Two movements were completed and sent home to Sweden in the spring of 1886. In a letter from April 1887, she writes that two more movements are finished, but that ‘the last one is still not quite right’. When the suite is described in newspapers in January 1888, we learn that the work is to be performed at a symphony concert in February. A program describing the work's four movements also appears at this time – Aulin thus seems to have abandoned the failed fifth movement.

In the days leading up to the premiere, however, something must have happened. A newspaper from February 22, 1888, the day when the concert was to take place, states that the performance of the suite must be postponed. The cause is unknown; the newspaper refers to ‘intervening obstacles’. The sad thing is that the performance was not only postponed but cancelled. The suite would never be played at a concert during Aulin's lifetime. Tableaux Parisiens is Aulin's only orchestral work, apart from vocal works with accompanying orchestra. The work was not printed but is preserved in the composer’s hand. On the cover page there is a dedication to court conductor Conrad Nordqvist, who was to have been the conductor at the premier concert of the work. All the movements have descriptive titles, which Aulin wrote in French.

The first movement is refreshing and lively and is entitled ‘Boisterous life’. It depicts the life of the people on the streets during the carnival season, but with a sudden break when a bell suddenly rings and the tones of an organ sound in the distance. The wanderer enters L’Église de la Madeleine and is surprised by the silence. ‘In the stillness of the night’ is the title of the calmer second movement, which depicts the stranger’s return home, immersed in her thoughts. A poetic guitar player is also described here. The movement begins with a clarinet solo without accompaniment that creates a dreamlike atmosphere. The introductory melody is then taken over by a solo violin accompanied by a pizzicato. An elegant character and waltz rhythms permeate the third movement, ‘Ballroom Scene’. Since Aulin, during the composition of Tableaux Parisiens, mentions the Symphonie fantastique as a favourite work, it is easy to draw parallels to the ballroom scene in this work. The last movement, ‘An Evening of Festivities at Trocadéro’, depicts fountains, festive lighting and fireworks.

© Per-Henning Olsson, Levande musikarv
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson