In 1980, just before my wedding with Hélène, I jotted down a musical theme representing the fact that the last name of my fiancée would soon change from her maiden name (Cerdan) to her new married name (Sauter).
Using German notation, and since “Ut” is a C, this yielded the notes HEEE CEDA HEEE E♭ACE. The rhythm and chords I noted were clearly inspired by some piano pieces by Bartók that I was practicing at the time.
I kept the original manuscript for over 30 years before finally composing a set of three pieces for piano based on the theme. I called the set Les noces de Chounette (The Marriage of Chounette – Chounette is a common term of endearment in France). The titles of the pieces are “The Marriage of Hélène” translated in Hungarian, French and Spanish:
- Helené házassága (Danse hongroise)
- Les noces d’Hélène (Nocturne)
- Las bodas de Helena (Tango)
Some time later, I made an arrangement for piano quintet of the set. In the third piece of this arrangement, the pianist appears to be distracted by memories of his own wedding and sometimes plays snippets by Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Grieg. This version was perfomed by the Dédé Quintet in December 2013 in The Netherlands.
In 2013, I submitted a suite of pieces for wind orchestra to the Coups de Vents competition in France. This included an arrangement of Helené házassága to which I added several secondary themes. I was very proud that my work was selected for the quarter-finals and was performed in Anzin, France.
Later that year I was asked to write an arrangement of the Tango from Les noces de Chounette for flute, violin and piano, to be played at an audition by musical students. The original piece was a bit short, so I added a more expressive middle section, resulting in a completely new piece.
Having extended both the Hungarian Dance and the Tango, I decided to include the additional material in a revision of the piano version, also enhancing the Nocturne. I recorded and published this in 2014 just before our 34th anniversary!
I also revised the arrangement for piano quintet, and had the great pleasure of working with the Dédé Quintet – five talented amateur musicians – during a trip to The Netherlands.
I later wrote an arrangement for solo viola that has not yet been performed. The score and a synthesized recording are available at Free-scores.com.
In the meantime, I had completed the trio version of Las bodas de Helena for clarinet, violin and piano which was published separately. This was beautifully premiered by Trio Contrastes in Salamanca, Spain.
On 11 November 2015, a trio of very young and talented students (Trio Vivace) performed Las bodas de Helena for an audition at their school in Koper, Slovenia. I am very pleased to know that my music is being used in music schools.