The French violinist Henri Vieuxtemps wrote Souvenir d’Amérique, opus 17 for violin and piano, in 1843, during his first concert tour in the United States. This set of variations, based on the melody of the popular song Yankee Doodle, became the entertaining surprise encore piece at Vieuxtemps’ recitals. Its humorous spirit, together with its virtuosic firework displays and imaginative use of playing techniques, made Souvenir d’Amérique an instant audience favorite.
My viola arrangement of this work is based on the original 1844 Schuberth edition. While adapting it for viola and piano, I realized that small compositional changes would be necessary to make it successful as a viola piece, besides transposing it a fifth down. Because of the larger size of the instrument, some chords and passages needed to be rearranged or altered to be comfortably playable on the viola and to better suit the more sonorous character of the instrument. At the same time, I always tried to preserve the composer’s original musical effects. I also added several register changes to the piano part as well as dynamic indications.
I very much hope that this brilliant musical gem will be a welcome addition to the viola repertoire and that it will give joy and pleasure to both the player and the listener.
New York, 2009