Happy Birthday François Rabbath Book 1

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Price £12.50


François Rabbath is one of the most important bassists in the international double bass world today. His new ideas and approach to playing and technique have challenged the standard and traditional way we hold the instrument, use the bow, and think about the Simandl positions. At the age of 90 he is still a great player, is an amazing teacher, and has written a wealth of music for the double bass which, I am certain, will remain in the repertoire as long as the double bass is played.

David Heyes writes: "I first heard François play in October 1980, during my first few weeks at the Royal College of Music in London, when he gave a masterclass at the college and a recital at the Wigmore Hall the following evening. His playing and approach were revolutionary at the time, which suited my anarchic spirit in my early 20s, and I loved his music and bought the two available LP's (Live in Paris/Multi-Bass) and a book of solo pieces published by Liben Music. The next time I met François was in Paris about 20 or so years ago. My friend Thierry Barbé had invited me to give two days of masterclasses at the Paris Conservatoire and the evening before we went to an open dress rehearsal of Monteverdi's The Corontaion of Poppea at the Paris Opera. That evening I met François, and also Ken Poggioli from Australia, and after the opera Thierry and I went to François's apartment, where he showed me his basses and the new endpin, and also showed me a video of him playing some of his music. We had dinner at his favourite Chinese restaurant afterwards, and this is an evening I will remember forever. It is a very strange feeling to meet one of your heroes but I can confirm that he is both an amazing person and musician and it's a privilege to know him, albeit at a distance."

François Rabbath celebrated his 90th birthday on Friday 12 March 2021

Graham Boag (Oman/UK) - Qadd for François
I was inspired to write something that reflects François journey from Aleppo to Europe and beyond. Qadd is a simple traditional song sung in Aleppo using colloquial Aleppan dialects. As such I decided to use one of the more popular Maqam’s (Arabic scales/mode) as the tonality for this piece, this is the Bayati Maqam which resembles Aeolian mode or the natural harmonic scale in Western Music and is centred on a D root with the Eb being ‘half flat’. The performer may, if they wish, play these notes as such or use normal western tuning. I hope that this piece will be enjoyed by many Bassists around the world. Enjoy playing it and thank you for this wonderful opportunity.

David Heyes (UK) - Secrets of the Silk Road
François Rabbath was born in Aleppo (Syria) in 1931 and once I realised that the city was part of the famous Silk Road I had my theme for a 90th birthday piece for the iconic François.
"Aleppo was in the heart of the Silk Road, the one coming from China in the Far East toward what is currently known as Western Europe and the Spice Route coming from the far south in India to Yemen..." The title came first and the music seemed to have a life of its own, writing itself over a two day period. It features open strings and harmonics, alongside left-hand pizzicatos which add depth and contrast to lyrical melodies, many played on the D string.
'Secrets of the Silk Road' is free and rhapsodic, allowing the player freedom throughout, and explores a wealth of middle eastern sounds and effects. It evokes the many sounds and sights of the Silk Road, remembering the routes travelled by countless traders over many centuries and the great riches and images of amazing luxury and exotic new spices. The double bass uses a three octave range featuring a wealth of colours and timbres to describe the wonders of the Silk Road.

John M. Kennedy (USA) - Inserts
Great ideas begin then simply grow and expand as they gain momentum. Rabbath's innovations for the double bass grew in such fashion and this piece is meant to create a sonic narrative for growth and development from seminal ideas. 'Inserts' transforms the opening simple ostinato pattern by inserting prescribed snippets of material. The player uses the snippets to create a unique expressions that reflects growth and drive much like Rabbath's work that transformed the double bass beyond convention over the years. The work is dedicated to David Heyes as part of his 'Rabbath @ 90' project.

Michael Montgomery (USA) - Perspectives
It is, of course, a little humbling and even intimidating to consider writing something for double bass in honour an artist such as François Rabbath, arguably one of the most accomplished of modern day bassists in terms of understanding what our noble instrument can do, as evidenced by his virtuosity both as a performer and composer – the innovations he has gifted us have been truly remarkable. It is humbling as well to be counted among the group of bassists/composers Recital Music has gathered for this project.
The title of my own contribution, 'Perspectives', is descriptive of the two contrasting sections of the piece and what they represent. The innocent character of the opening section, a simple hexatonic melody in F major executed in its entirety with the clear flutelike tones of harmonics (flageolet), is reflective of the childlike admonition one will often hear from François, the suggestion that we must think, when we play music, that it is love we share with those who would hear us. The much more aggressive middle section in an A Phrygian tonality reminds us François is also an individual who has challenged the boundaries and constraints of the traditional double bass world and in so doing shown us this world is not so small and comfortable as we might once have believed.

Luis Guillermo Peréz (Venezuela) - Reverence
'Reverence' is free and rhapsodic, exploring the lyrical solo register of the double bass with music emphasises the sonorous qualities of the instrument. An eight bar introduction leads into music which is song-like and expressive, contrasting free flowing semiquavers which create movement and momentum. A series of double stops and harmonics add colour and interest before the opening music returns, but now an octave higher.

Tranquillity is a piece for solo double bass, with a duration of around two minutes and forty seconds. Rhythmic variation in the piece is kept at a minimum, creating a feeling of openness and constancy. This piece was written in honour of the great François Rabbath, whose beautiful playing reaches the heart. I thank him for his music with this small offering. [Mary Rae]

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovwpJSwa8cA


  • David Heyes - Secrets of the Silk Road
  • John M. Kennedy - Inserts
  • Luis Guillermo Peréz - Reverence
  • Graham Boag - Qadd for François
  • Michael Montgomery - Perspectives
  • Mary Rae - Tranquillity

Samples available

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Cat No. RM1156
Supplier Code RM1156
Price £12.50
ComposersGraham Boag
David Heyes
John M. Kennedy
Michael Montgomery
Luis Guillermo Perez
Mary Rae
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
Weight 163 grams
Published 24th August 2021
Availability 6 in stock
See also...
RM1165  Happy Birthday François Rabbath Book 2