Victoria Borisova-Ollas

Born 1969, in Vladivostock, Russia.

Colours of Autumn for String Orchestra

Composed in 2002.

First Performance: Oct 17 2002, Växjö Concert Hall by Musica Vitae, conducted by Tuomas Ollila.

Instrumentation: String orchestra.

Victoria Borisova-Ollas is a Russian-born composer living in Sweden. Born in 1969, she began her musical studies at an early age. After graduating first from the Central School of Music in Moscow and then from the famous Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, she continued her composition studies in Sweden at Malmö and Stockholm Music Colleges and in England at the Royal College of Music in London. In April 1998, her orchestral piece Wings of the Wind won second prize in the Masterprize, one of the most prestigious international competitions for composers. It was broadcast by BBC World Service and BBC Radio 3 and was heard in 32 countries during 1997 and 1998.

Colours of Autumn was commissioned by the Swedish chamber orchestra Musica Vitae. The work is based on a quotation from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita : “Autumn was ringing in the air.” The piece is a single movement, consisting of several variations on a halting pizzicato theme that appears at the beginning and is recapitulated almost verbatim at the end.

Example 1.

“There are fantastic descriptions of the seasons in Nabokov’s works,” states the composer, whose compositional method most often starts with textual inspiration. Colours of Autumn is not program music. The imagery of changing colors is represented by a kaleidoscope of transformations from frenetic pizzicato passages to ghostly sounds produced by “sul ponticello” (on the bridge) bowing to left-hand glissandi on harmonics. Borisova-Ollas wrote: “I wish to evoke the colours of autumn through special variations in tone colour.”