Suite italienne

Suite italienne

Igor Stravinsky

Marc Coppey's masterclasses

English 41 min Cello

In this masterclass, Marc Coppey along with his student Panshuo Wang explore the comedic character of this Italian piece.

Produced by the Saline royale Academy in October, 2020 at Arc-et-Senans.

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The masterclass

About this masterclass

In this masterclass, Professor Marc Coppey emphasizes the need for extreme contrast in character within and between the different movements in this suite, focusing particularly in the Serenata and Tarantella. In the Serenata, Coppey encourages Panshuo Wang to play with more presence of sound to match the singing character of the movement. The professor reminds us of the importance of imagining our sound in a performance hall, and shows how the release of tension and more contact of the bow with the strings will help enhance and broaden the sound.

In the Tarantella, Coppey challenges the student to conjure different personalities within the movement. Instead of making the music sound elegant and polished, the player must follow Stravinsky’s instructions and use a broad range of dynamics and colors. One must be prepared to make sudden changes for effect, to the point of sounding grotesque. Additionally, Coppey discusses articulation, bow speed, and pressure in order to develop the right temperament for the movement.

What we learn in this masterclass

  1. Bringing out the characters of each movement.
  2. How to achieve a quality of sound that projects.
  3. Expressing the extreme contrasts in this piece.
  4. Avoiding accents when they are not written.
  5. Flexibility in bow for fast transitions


Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne is an offshoot of his famous composition, Pulcinella that he composed for Serge Diaghilev, an art critic, patron, ballet impresario, and founder of the Ballets Russes. In some ways, one could suggest that this piece was ‘arranged’ by Stravinsky rather than ‘composed’ by him, since Diaghilev selected music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and gave them to Stravinsky to arrange.

This idea of ‘borrowing’ fragments of an existing composition was controversial at the time, as well as Stravinsky’s Neo-classical approach to music, which included taking a lot of musical liberties in general such as reimagining and reworking Baroque harmonies with dissonances, among other interesting experimentation.

The music has an unquestionable vivacity about it, which the composer capitalized on by developing various arrangements. Only the Serenata and Menuetto are based on Pergolesi’s music. The Introduzione, Tarantella, Scherzo, and Finale are based on compositions by Domenico Gallo. The Gavotte con due variazioni was based on the works of Carlo Monza.

  • Student:Panshuo Wang
  • Instruments: Cello
  • Date:05 November 2020
  • Academy:Academy Nov. 1 - Nov. 8, 2020
Marc Coppey

Marc Coppey

“It's a commedia dell'arte, this Italian figure. So a lot of it is about theater, circus, and ballet and every piece has a different character. It is like telling a story, but there's a lot of humor, irony, and many different feelings that go through the music.”

Marc Coppey

Sheet music

Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this cello masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Marc Coppey’s feedback and comments.

Marc Coppey

Marc Coppey

In 1988 won the two highest prizes of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition: the first prize and the special prize for best Bach performance.

Marc Coppey is a critically acclaimed musician and is considered to be one of today’s leading cellists worldwide. Originally from Strasbourg, France, Coppey began his musical training at the Strasbourg Conservatory before attending the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and the University of Indiana Bloomington. In 1988 at only 18-years-old, Coppey won first prize and special prize for best Bach performance at the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, Germany. Since then, Marc Coppey has regularly performed as a soloist with leading orchestras in collaboration with numerous distinguished conductors. Such conductors include but are not limited to: Eliahu Inbal, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Emmanuel Krivine, Alan Gilbert, and many more. He appears regularly in some of the most prestigious concert halls across Europe, North and South America, and Asia. In addition to his solo concert career, Marc Coppey is a professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and leads masterclasses all over the world. What’s more, Marc Coppey lends his expertise in the arts and is the Artistic Director of the Musicales de Colmar chamber music festival as well as the Musical Director of the Zagrebacki solisti (Zagreb Soloists). In 2014, he was named the Officer des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.

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