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INTERMEZZO NO. 1 IN E MINOR BY MANUEL M. PONCE

Manuel M. Ponce (1882–1948) is undoubtedly one of the most prominent composers in Latin American history. Among his piano pieces, one of the most beloved is his Intermezzo No. 1 in E Minor. This intermezzo has similarities to Brahms's Intermezzo in E Minor, Op. 119, No. 2. Both works are in ternary form, their main thematic material is developed from a single motif based primarily on thirds and sixths in sixteenth-note patterns, and both of their middle sections visit the parallel key of E major.

From a pedagogical standpoint, this piece could be helpful for students in a variety of ways:

1. RUBATO: This piece requires a careful sense of rubato between phrases to avoid over-sentimentalism in every segment where the theme is used. This can be seen from the very beginning, as Ponce starts with a short introduction which develops into the main theme.

2. SHAPING (at the micro and macro levels): Throughout the intermezzo, the student will encounter a series of two-note gestures within larger contextual phrases. These layers must be shaped properly to avoid a mechanical sounding sixteenth-note pattern.

3. VOICING: Students will need to bring out the main melody in the right hand while playing thirds throughout most of the
piece. The melody is often the upper note of the thirds. The left hand will also have opportunities to shine beginning in measure 16, where the secondary theme originates. This will demand that students be more careful with their balance and overall shaping, not only of the new theme in the left hand, but also of the dialogue it creates with the main theme in the right hand.

4. CADENZA-LIKE PASSAGEWORK: This B section showcases a bit of Spanish flare and fingerwork, reminiscent of Lisztian flourishes.

Intermezzo No. 1 in E Minor by Manuel M. Ponce offers a refreshing repertoire addition for late-intermediate to early advanced students. It could be performed during a studio recital, festival, competition, or even as an encore. This is a crowd pleaser! This piece is not currently in print by a publisher, but the sheet music is available for free online from the Petrucci Music Library (www.imslp.org). Many of Ponce's other works for piano, including Intermezzo No. 2, are published by Peermusic. The manuscript of this piece and the majority of Manuel M. Ponce's works are found in the Manuel M. Ponce Archive, located at the Fondo Reservado of the Cuicamatini Library, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City.

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