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  • “ALELUYA” (Hallelujah) (1958)

Publication by the University of Chile's Institute of Music Extension of the Faculty of Sciences and Music Arts

This work, written for mixed choir, is based on the spirit of the expression of joy "Hallelujah."  It is basically structured in an energetic cheerful introduction similar to a fanfare, occupying the first eleven compasses. It is followed by a fugato with its subject in stretto and its development c.18 , ending in c.36 in D M.

Phrases then appear separated by silences that obstinately introduce the euphoric climate of the beginning, finally achieving a cadence in crescendo that leads to a final major chord ff which puts a luminous end to this work.

Conducted by Lémann, was first performed by the choir of the Experimental School of Arts Education of the Ministry of Education, obtaining  a first prize in the 1958 Choral Festival.

“Hallelujah” was published in 1960 in the “Album for the Youth of America” by the Pan-American Union in Washington DC, United States.



This work consists of four movements and was originally intended to be played on early instruments. In view of the technical difficulties of the piece, the composer decided to use piccolo instead of flute soprano, two flutes instead of flute contralto and tenor, and concert harpsichord instead of a small spinet of 4 extension octaves.

The first movement Allegro is built on heterogeneous elements either in character as to tempi. The appearance of different elements puts the musical syntax in crisis, thus creating a suspense which is resolved in the second movement. The second movement Vivace is bithematic developed, that is to say, it obeys the classical sonata form. The novel aspect of the form lies in the procedures used in its process; for example: the second theme, which is slower, is a rhythmic negative of the first, and the re-exposition of the first theme is a total inversion of the first part.

The twelve-tone system used throughout the work fully meets the contrapuntal demands of the same one.  On the other hand, the third movement Andante is an interlude that goes towards the fourth movement Presto, in which all the themes of the work appear in different values, increased and diminished, in succession and simultaneously coming to an end of abrupt cut.  This thematic complexity produces the exhaustion of the auditor, taking the work to a psychologically necessary term.

This work composed in 1962 was premiered and awarded a prize   at the 1964 Chilean Music Festival.  Its recording in CD was taken from a live  concert given on the 26th April 1966 by performers Guillermo Bravo, piccolo; Juan Bravo, flute; Josefina San Martín, flute and Ruby Ried, harpsichord.


  • “EL TONY CHICO (THE LITTLE CLOWN)" (1964). Play by Luis Alberto Heiremans

Words by Juan Lémann interviewed by Ruth Chase for "The American Hour" radio program - March 1964

“When Eugenio Dittborn talked to me about Tony Chico and, after reading the story, I realized it was a typical Chilean theme, because the atmosphere in which it develops and the poetry itself, written by Heiremans, could nothing but suggest Chilean music.

That is why I decided to take elements from the Chilean folklore with the exception of a shimmy which is totally American.  The main instrument I used to accompany the songs is the guitar that stresses the Chilean atmosphere.  The women choir gives the idea of the angels seen by Landa, the main character of this piece, who were really women selling sweets in white dressers.  I tried to give the music an intimate and almost romantic sense, in order to underline the symbolic and human characteristics of the play.

I want to acknowledge (in this recording) the participation of Coro Filarmónico,  Luis Lopez (guitar), Lucy Salgado( singing), Sergio Miquel (banjo) and myself (laughs)  piano.

I hope that the public will appreciate this union between the text and the music that is nothing but the aim of incidental music.  Thank you”.



Analysis, Comments and Reviews
Dr. Pablo Mahave Veglia

The title of this work refers to the Aeolian harp, a zither-type instrument in which the strings are set in motion by the wind. As the Spanish term for open string translates literally as "string to the air" (cuerda al aire), it is suggestive of a prominent use of open strings, or at least the pitches of the open strings. Moreover, a reference to such an instrument may imply a free and generous resonance, as well as an intemperate and unrestricted measurement of time. Both are true of Eólica. Lémann's solution to the perennial problem of solo string writing as a choice between linear or chordal music was to use a constant juxtaposition between these two textures. Throughout the work, the intervening of horizontal and vertical elements gives the work its dynamic movement and dramatic drive. Furthermore, all three movements are analogous in form and, more importantly, in their narrative sense of continuous motivic development.(…)

(…) For its balance between an abstract sense of form and its highly unified style, Eólica merits mention among the finest of Juan Lémann's works for any genre. Also notable for its bold technical use of the instrument, it is the work of a fine orchestrator that explored for this only time with cello, sheer instrumental virtuosism.


  • “LEYENDA DEL MAR (LEGEND OF THE SEA) Music for ballet in three acts”


The first part of this work composed in 1977, was performed by the Chilean Symphony Orchestra conducted by Víctor Tevah at the 1979 Chilean Music Festival and was awarded  an important  prize. The following year the complete work was performed by the same orchestra and staged for the first time by the Chilean National Ballet, with choreography by Fernando Beltramí and costumes, scenery and lighting by Ana Soza.

Legend of the Sea is based on the legend of La Pincoya, a mythological figure from the archipelago of Chiloé. The text that inspired the work was written by Nicasio Tangol who, in “Chiloé, the Magical Archipelago”, relates the legend of the Pincoya, “the goddess who personifies the fertility of marine fauna.  The abundance or dearth of shellfish on the beaches and fish in the channels depends on her”. The first movement, The Sea, gives a description of  the sea and serves for introducing  the legend of the Pincoya, a beautiful, sensual female figure, who with her partner, the Pincoy, frequents lonely spots along the coast and the rocky outcrops of the mysterious inlets. In the second movement, The Beach, the Pincoya begins her dance, which starts slowly and ends up to frenzy. If she dances with her eyes on the coastal hills, the beaches in that place will become sterile, but if she dances while looking at the sea, her dance will seed the place with shellfish and the beaches and waters of the region will be heaped in abundance. The third movement, Seedtime, is crowned by a merry and joyful final dance.”

In the Chilean Music Review Nº152 (1980), Juan Lémann writes about his work in the following terms: “I was inspired musically by the possibility of creating the form out of color and texture, determination and indetermination, symmetry and asymmetry, the play of densities, use of micro and macro motifs, the static and the mobile, fusion and division in sequences and combinations that make up the musical syntax. In this music, each element gives rise to the next one, and finding this in the total form is most fascinating. The play between homogeneity and contrast could not be absent from a work of this nature. The composition techniques used have been very varied and their nature conditioned only by the musical intention. Therefore, the resulting form is not subject to preconceived theories. The local aspect is incorporated with components of our vernacular music in both  anecdotic and abstract ways”.

With regard to orchestration, the composer states: “The orchestra used here was conceived on the basis of a maximum variety of timbres within a great economy of resources. There is only one of each instrument, even in the string section, since the type of melodic development would not allow the massive use of any of them, especially in passages of indeterminate type. The percussion section includes a wide variety of instruments, divided up between five percussionists, in addition to the piano forte, which is also used as a percussion instrument. The instruments with starched skins or metallic plates permit the pitch to be impersonal where the score calls for this. The sound is built up from its component parts, this principle being applied to each instrument separately and to the sound as a whole. For this reason the use of somewhat sophisticated instrumental resources was indispensable. The orchestra: 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon, 1 horn, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, 1 first violin, 1 second violin, 1 viola, 1 cello, 1 double bass, piano forte. Percussion: 3 kettledrums, 3 tom-toms, 2 drums, 2 bongos, 1 African drum, temple blocks (4), 2 woodblocks, tam-tam and various cymbals of different sizes, glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone and marimba. Accessories: metallic and bamboo rattles, gourd shakers, maracas, etc. Total: 18 performers. It is interesting to point out that this group has been treated as a small symphony orchestra rather than a large chamber ensemble”.


Comments and Reviews 1

After its premiere, critic Federico Heinlein wrote the following review in “El Mercurio” on 8th September 1980: “Lémann´s work, the first third of which was heard in 1979, is fabulously rich, and created with a masterly hand. The composer testifies to his perfect command of timbre and makes us enjoy almost half an hour of suggestive and vital music.  Its vitality might in fact prove dangerous for a choreographer, because the sonorities in themselves are of such plasticity that any transferral of the work to a visual medium seems to be superfluous”.

In another review by Heinlein on Saturday, 16th June 1984, he wrote the following: “We have extolled the virtues of this work by the Chilean composer on many occasions. Each time we hear it we are impressed yet again by his palette, which blends elements from Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky with other more contemporary ones to form a very personal language. In the sonorous structure of the work there beats a feverish pulse which reflects an interior activity which does not necessary require representation in dance”.

Comments and Reviews 2
Juan Lémann Cazabon
Excerpt from the Chilean Music Review
1980 XXXIV, N° 152, pp. 23 -34, by Luis Merino

    “The music of Leyenda del Mar (Legend of the Sea) is truly remarkable. The composer employs three large sound blocks in a mainly colouristic texture, one corresponding to the wind instruments, the second to the percussion instruments and the third to the strings. He combines them in such a way that individual timbres merge perfectly to attain the global effect, based on their own attack, intensity and extinction patterns. The timbres sound mellow, rich and always original. Many of them are based on elements of great simplicity, quick motifs similar to the acciaccatura and to the mordente, trills of various types, short and long displacements, glissandos, clusters and tremolos.

    The music shows a truly notable dynamism and unity. A craftsman of the musical form, Juan Lémann adjusts to perfection a series of climaxes and sub-climaxes, in a flow that never declines. The unity is obtained by its prevailing colouristic quality and by the reappearance, at important points in the structure, of two materials.  The first of these emerges at the beginning of the movement performed by the horn, the trumpet and the trombone, backed by the piano and the vibraphone. It has a maritime atmosphere quality, based on an intervallic nucleus consisting of a trill (F-B-flat) and a pure fourth (B flat-F flat). This material is elaborated in the course of the score (p.25) as well as at the end (pp. 46-47), as a resolution of the climax of the movement. The other material appears in p.18 and is based upon an undulating displacement in the bass register performed by the bassoon, contra-bassoon, violoncellos and double-basses and supported by the piano and the percussion instruments. It reappears (in p.32), similar to a "persistent surf", and becomes more intense in the "misterioso” (of pp. 38-41), from which the climax of the movement arises.”

    The National Chilean Ballet of the University of Chile Chile gave the first performance of "Legend of the Sea" in Santiago’s Victoria Theatre on September 4, 1980, with choreography by Fernando Beltramí and with the Universidad de Chile Symphony Orchestra conducted by maestro Víctor Tevah.

    The Revista Musical Chilena (Chilean Music Magazine) asked Juan Lémann to describe his work in an exclusive article for our publication ".



Analysis, Comments and Reviews

This work was First-prize winner at the Composition Contest to Compose a Concert Overture for Symphony Orchestra, sponsored by the Arts Faculty of the University of Chile, on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Association of Chilean Composers (ANC) in 1986.

To quote Lemann’s  own words: “When I decided to compose an overture to start a concert, I tried to forget all I knew about certain time-honoured structures. I asked myself what it means to create  the desire to listen to a program, after the performance of a suitable piece. Hypotheses and memories began to flow and after a time of reflection I thought about the meaning of the term overture which is to open, to give access to something, or to show a selection  of elements to come, as in the case of lyrical or programmatic works. In this case a determined program did not exist; rather, it could be anything and include different styles. I decided to create a semi-open form that would create suspense by introducing heterogeneous elements, but without failing to provide a solemn beginning, as if to announce something important. At the same time, I wanted to work with certain motifs and resources, which I managed to shape into a coherent syntax: tremolos, ornaments, echo effects and resonances.

Then, it was necessary to introduce a contrasting section at the end of bar 27, because the following bar contained a rhythmic element on the kettledrum which, “accelerando”, came to a point (in bar 36) where  a syncopated jazz-type motif begins and is immediately developed. But, was it possible to continue opening up a form that was already completely open? The answer laid in repeating the first four bars, which in turn gave rise  to other phrases and periods that would open up again. In bar 115 I thought of closing the form, but now not on the basis of the first motif, but with the syncopated one, which in this case acted as a grand final cadenza.

The tonal system of this Overture is free and open, just like the formal structure. I personally believe in inspiration, so I would not be able to satisfy the serious student with a list of formal analytical explanations or reasons.

This work only aims at providing a pleasant musical moment, adequate to be followed by another more extensive moment: the concert itself”

The comments on this work by Federico Heinlein, critic of “El Mercurio” newspaper, on 26th July 1994 were as follows: “An excellent work, well thought out, well executed and with great vigour, it uses the full orchestra with flawless skill. At times it unlashes a gale of colours, while one fleeting moment is just for the kettledrum and the first violin. The Symphony Orchestra showed itself capable of being delicate or incisive, and maestro Cobos conducted with supreme mastery on every parameter”. The premiere of the Concert Overture was given during the Official Season of the Chilean Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jacques Bodmer on 8th August 1986, on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Association of Composers. The recording on CD was made live at the Concert held on 23rd July 1994 as a part of the Official Season of the Chilean Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Patricio Cobos.




    Juan Lémann makes the following comment about this piece: “This work, composed of a single movement, consists of ten sections which follow one another, each a consequence of the one before, but fulfilling different thematic functions of transition, recapitulation and coda. Their rhythmic and melodic motifs are also derived one from the other but take on very different features according to the character of each section; giving the piece great variety without altering its formal unity in the process”.

    Piece for Duo was composed in 1962, performed and prize-winner on the same year at the Chilean Music Festival. A live recording on CD was made at a concert given on 28th June 1964 by Francisco Quezada, violin and Jorge Román, cello.


  • “RAPSODIA (RHAPSODY) for guitar”  (1995)

Analysis, Comments and Reviews

Dedicated to Luis Orlandini, this is a long, diverse work, organized in consecutive sections in which Lémann explores various technical and expressive resources of the instrument, producing a strong and delicate guitar at a time, with certain dose of virtuosity. Though there are reiterative rhythmic and melodic motifs, obstinatos and a recurring harmony in fourths, -which are elements that give unity to the work-,  contrast and heterogeneity dominate, thus obtaining a fresh piece, sometimes  mysterious and meditative, but then playful and almost humorous.

About Lemann’s varied musical production, the composer and critic of music, Federico Heinlein, said: “Lémann’s work is fabulously rich, created with a masterly hand.  His Rapsodia is, as the name indicates, a work in which the themes follow one another freely.  Lémann explores here the inexhaustible resources of the guitar, which becomes strong at times and then subtle and delicate, with permanent contrasts between reflection and playful expression. It was dedicated to Luis Orlandini”.



Analysis, Comments and Reviews

The original name of this work, “Variaciones”, indicates that “variations” is not merely a method of composition.  On the contrary they are important elements of this work.

It is written on a twelve-tone series, used strictly only in the theme and the first five variations, and then the use of this series becomes free until the end of the work, which has a total of twelve variations.

Variation Nº11 contains a synthesis of the elements used previously, ending with a brilliant passacaglia that in its last bars re-exposes  the series in octaves alternated between the right hand and the left.

The first three variations are a whole; a unit in which two complementary factors are always in counterpoint, and devolve towards a third synthesis.  At the same time, it is necessary to say that both in Nº 4 and Nº6, variations gain a dramatic character that becomes more and more complex. In Nº 6, tension accumulated previously is released.

Rhythm is asymmetric and in Variation Nº7, an interlude, the austerity of the musical treatment is opposed to a theme similar to a nocturne and in Variation   Nº 8 to the humorous nature of the melody. It begins with a crescendo and has three variations that end in Nº 11 in a free and delicate new synthesis that is also the interlude preceding the final variation.  The last part becomes a “passacaglia” where “fortissimos” and a very irregular rhythm conform the hard and abrupt final part of this work.

It might be said that the work evokes certain romanticism, mixed with a strong sense of rhythm.

A comment in “El Condor” German newspaper in Santiago on 1st February 1975 states the following: “The succession of variations by Juan Lémann is a work full of deep transcendence, where pensive or melancholy moments alternate with penetrating or sometimes subtly elusive aphorisms, or culminate in a “Passacaglia” synthesis, the height of wisdom. Its interpretation by Oscar Gacitúa combines technical perfection with the ability for plastic expression”.

“Variations for Piano” was first performed by Oscar Gacitúa to whom this work was dedicated, and won an award at the VIII Chilean Music Festival in 1962.




These Variations were created as a cheerful joke while he was a student in the former National Conservatory of Music, causing first astonishment and then the general hilarity and approval among the venerable, serious professors and composers of the time. This situation has continued to this day among all lovers of good music.

The finesse with which Juan Lémann imagines the greatest geniuses of music by  creating variations on the very popular song  ‘La Vaca Lechera’ in no way means making fun of these composers. Rather, he extracts their most essential and admired features. So much so that Lémann’s work is commonly used for teaching the characteristics of composers and styles of classical and serious music.

At the request of the people and shortly before his death, he left brief written explanations on each of these variations:

    1. Variation 1: In the style of Johann Sebastian Bach.  It presents a physiognomy based on the polyphonic-imitative style of this maestro of the Baroque, without omitting the pompous presentation of the theme and its cadences.  A central part beginning in minor mode, serves as a link to a re-exposition in which grandeur gets hold of a solemn finale.
    2. Variation 2: In the style of Georg Frederick Händel. This one presents a small group of variations in itself, which alludes to the more festive character of this composer. The tempo di minuetto is a reference to the beginning of Paderewski’s Minuet which, though not baroque, fits in well because of the use of ornaments and its graceful extemporaneity.
    3. Variation 3: In the style of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Besides referring to a certain type of accompanied melody by this author, its musical phrases end with feminine cadences characterized by the use of harmonic retards. The use of melodic ornaments at the end of the variation underlines the typical Mozart’s climate and the idea of variation.
    4. Variation 4: In the style of Ludwig van Beethoven (Funeral March). It does not require much explanation because it is a parody of the Funeral March from Sonata Op. 26 by this composer. It also includes a typical central section in which the theme, in a high register, becomes celestial as if it was a prayer.
    5. Variation 5:  In the style of Frederick Chopin - Johannes Brahms.   It does not favor either of these two composers in particular, but emphasizes the emotional and passionate nature of Romanticism. The interpretation underlines this fact by making use of the rubato (a certain rhythmic irregularity) that accentuates the moments of greatest emotion in phrases, periods and sections of this piece.
    6. Variation 6: In the style of Claude-Achille Debussy. Needless to say  that the idea was to present the theme  in an aquatic atmosphere  created by using  the tone scale along with the subtle use of the piano pedal, all of the above reinforced  by the characteristic  harmony of French Impressionism.
    7. Variation 7: In the style of Sergei Prokofiev (Peter and the cow). This composer would have had to smile at seeing his wolf (from “Peter and the Wolf”) transformed into a dairy cow. In the course of the variation  some of the themes of its characters are suggested,  all of it underlined by certain type of harmonic links of the style.
    8. Variation 8: In the style of Igor Stravinsky. Most of it alludes to the “Petroushka” suite by this composer, with some of the motifs interposed an easily recognizable.

      In the second part of the series of variations, the theme is adapted to different styles according to the zones or countries concerned .
    9. Variation 9: Vaca Nortina (The cow in the north). The theme is presented on a typical succession of chords characteristic of the music of the country’s northern border and also on a rhythm appropriate to the above theme.
    10. Variation 10: La Vaca en China (The Cow in China). In this variation it is preferable to leave the music to the fantasy of the listener who will be able to imagine a complete, typically oriental landscape and scenario.
    11. Variation 11: La Vaca en Argentina (The Cow in Argentine) (Tango). This variation obviously caricatures certain elements of the tango.  It might be said that certain melodic twists, cadences and rhythms emphasize the typical popular roots of the tango.
    12. Variation 12: La Vaca en EE.UU. (The Cow in the U.S) (Boogie-Woogie). The jazz of the 1940’s appears stamped on the whole piece which needs no further comments. Young people should, first,   be set in an era they did not know, full of vigor, despite the sufferings of the Second World War.
    13. Variation 13: La Vaca en Hungría (The Cow in Hungary) (Hungarian Rhapsody). The music of the gypsies and that of Franz Liszt blend in a vigorous dance that seeks some similarity with the rhapsodies by this composer. Passion seizes the form of the piece, which oscillates between an improvised (rhapsodic) style and dance.