Take a Trip for Two with Helmut Lipsky

Helmut Lipsky – Voyage a Deux

Over the last few weeks we have focused on the work of highly acclaimed Ovation Press editor, violinist, composer, and pedagogue Helmut Lipsky: in a two-part interview with Mr. Lipsky himself, as well as another two-part interview with Montreal-based Duo Philia, comprised of inspiring young violinists Caroline Chéhadé and Ana Drobac who have collaborated with Mr. Lipsky. It’s been a fantastic experience for Ovation Press to sit down with all of these incredible musicians, to listen and learn from them, and to be exposed to the musical work that have produced independently and together.

To wrap up this series on Helmut Lipsky, Ovation Press is excited to take you on a journey for two with Mr. Lipsky’s composition: Voyage à deux (“Trip for Two”). Voyage à deux – currently comprised of two volumes with an upcoming third volume in the works – are suites of small pieces, each with a unique style, which invoke various imagery and paint the scene for our musical journey.

Voyage à deux complements etudes and solo repertoire and aims to make the aspiring musicians discover almost from the beginning, the joy of playing together with other violinists, starting out with pieces which can be played in first position.

Short and fun to play, contrasting in mood, style and character, the pieces in this collection attempt to stimulate the imagination to search for appropriate sounds and colours, and to develop sensitivity for various articulations, dynamics, phrasings and musical styles.

More advanced students can concentrate early on the musical aspects and focus their attention on listening to each other, thereby furthering the skills necessary for the playing of chamber music. The pieces in the first volume are all playable in the first position. Volume 2 explores all the positions and widens the stylistic spectrum to an even broader extent, providing many new challenges, especially on the rhythmic level and for the development of intonation and the use of double-stops.

–Helmut Lipsky

Volume 1 – Beginner to Intermediate

The first volume of Voyage à deux appeals more to beginner to intermediate students. The book is entirely playable in first position, and the musicality required of the player is quite manageable for students at a younger level of playing. Nevertheless, Mr. Lipsky has cut no corners with the thought and consideration in writing these pieces. Knowing that the music needed to convey the imagery of a journey, he drew upon sources in our own world to inspire the music of the voyage. Mr. Lipsky also encourages more advanced students to explore alternate fingerings.

In part one of the interview, Mr. Lipsky discusses the way in which the world inspires his music:

I wanted to give to young string players material that’s a bit out of the ordinary, introducing them to different musical languages. I never try to imitate a style – it is my own musical language – but I take inspiration, for example, from my travels to Japan or through experiencing the movements of the waves of the sea.

These passages refer to two works from Lipsky’s first volume of Voyage à deux: Japanese Tale and Waves

Japanese Tale can be purchased as part of Voyage à deux vol. 1, part 1.

Waves can be purchased as part of Voyage à deux vol. 1, part 2.

Image of score - Helmut Lipsky's Japanese Tale

Image of Score - Helmut Lipsky's Waves


Although the second volume is written for intermediate and advanced musicians, students of volume 1 will no doubt notice that the work Jam Session sets itself apart from many of the other works in the first volume as a technically – and especially rhythmically – more challenging piece, introducing the element of jazz and to be played here with a swing feel.

Image of score - Helmut Lipsky's Jam Session
In many respects, Jam Session resembles and approaches the style and complexity of Lipsky’s second volume of Voyage à deux.

You can purchase Jam Session as part of Voyage à deux volume 1, part 3.

Also check out this video of Jam Session performed by Duo Philia in May 2011.

Full score lists are below

Vol. 1, Part 1
The Caravan
Hunting Song
In the Evening
Folk Dance
Country Fair
Japanese Tale
In the Alps
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Vol. 1, Part 2
The Clown
The Castle
The Bullfight
Ragtime in 3/4
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Vol. 1, Part 3
The Snake-Charmer
The Butterfly
Jam Session
Wind Song
Temple Dance
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Volume 2 – Intermediate to Advanced

Readers may already be somewhat familiar with volume 2. The work Fiesta! from volume 2 was featured in our recent interviews with Helmut Lipsky and the Duo Philia through the fantastic video production that they collaborated on together (see below for video).

Just as a musician grows, matures, and improves on his or her journey, the difficulties and obstacles along their path become more challenging. That is exactly what happens in volume 2 of Voyage à deux. In the second book, students technically explore the higher positions and playing in double stops, while stylistically taking detours “further away off the beaten track” in a “reflection of [Mr. Lipsky’s] own musical preoccupations of the last years.” As a versatile musician and composer, these detours include jazz, latin music, tango, the folk music of various cultures, and even film music.

L’Irlandaise opens up the second volume of Voyage à deux. In French, the title translates essentially to an Irish woman, and the influence of Irish music is apparent in this composition.

Later in the set, players encounter Big Shuffle, synthesizing jazz-like rhythms with the flavor of country music. Duo Philia’s performance below helps us to understand the vivid imagination of the composer.

And of course, the much-talked about and much-watched Fiesta! closes out the set.

In volume 2, each of these small works offers a challenge to the player – achieve the particular style of the piece. To do this, the player must discover the right colors of sound, the right combination of techniques, the right sense of rhythm… all in order to communicate to the listener what the music has to say.

Voyage à deux, Volume 2 is available for purchase as an entire collection or as individual pieces

We hope you have enjoyed this multi-part series including the interviews with Helmut Lipsky and Duo Philia, and that you will continue to enjoy the music for many more days to come! To see more about Helmut Lipsky and a listing of all his music visit his Ovation Press Editor Profile

Helmut Lipsky Editor Profile

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