Percussion Keyboards Strings Winds Mixed Ensembles Electronic         

Villa Mors Chaconne
for solo guitar

Work no. 54


    The Villa Mors is an abandoned castle-like villa in Tourgeville, on the cold coast of France's Normandy region. Abandoned (or simply empty) vacation homes are a major feature of the region. Some used to belong to movie stars of the past. This one was built in 1905 and belonged to the Mors family, then-famous early pioneers of the in the automotive industry. The Mors automobile factory was eventually bought by Citroën, and few people remember Mors cars today. A very particular Google Street View shot, one of the earliest made for the project in Normandy, was the inspiration behind the title and some of the music. The piece is related in some ways to the Prince Street Chaconne, which was also inspired by photographs of an abandoned place where people once lived. At the time of composing the piece, I couldn't dream of ever visiting Tourgeville, but about a year later a very fortunate opportunity arose to do just that.

    From the point of view of technique, this is an unusual chaconne in which the traditionally unchanging ostinato bass does change, frequently appearing in an abridged form. Each section of the piece has a different length, covering every possibility from one bar to twelve, forming a kind of a completely hermetic, self-sustaining ecosystem. This is one of the reasons why I think it's one of my most successful works – even if it is unabashedly unidiomatic.

    I've documented the state of the villa in 2016 during a short trip to France. The photographs, and a bit more about the history of the villa, can be found in my Flickr album. I'd love to know more about the history of the place, so if you have any information about it, I'd appreciate it if you dropped me a line at the e-mail address provided at the bottom of the page.

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