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Prasidh Silapabanleng and His Advisor Klaus Pringsheim: Cross-Cultural Transfer and Transition From Thai Traditional to European Classical Music

24 August 2021

11:30 - 12:00 hrs (GMT+7)

Prasidh Silapabanleng, a prominent Thai composer and “National Artist” (1988), was trained from his childhood in traditional Thai music by his father Luang Praditpairoh (Sorn Silapabanleng) before his further study in composition at the Imperial Academy of Music, Geidai University, Tokyo (Japan) under the supervision of German Professor Klaus Pringsheim (1883-1972), who was a former pupil of Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Prasidh Silapabanleng composed theatrical plays with his wife, Ladda, for Phakavali theatrical troupe (1947-51) and orchestral works such as  “Siamese Suite” and “Siang Tian”.

Inspired by Asian culture, Pringsheim wrote instrumental as well as orchestral transcriptions of Japanese and Thai songs for instrumental music as well as for an orchestra. During his stay in Thailand in 1938, he composed “Siamese Melodies - Suite for violin and piano”, op. 37, consisting of five songs by Luang Vichitr Vadakarn. Compared to the historical recording of the original songs, Pringsheim notated simple tunes for the violin part, accompanied by a piano with dense polyphonic texture and the use of chromatic chords in the late German romantic style. In the score, he also deliberately indicates musical expression and tempo markings. Since Thai songs of this era were not normally notated in such detail, these long-forgotten arrangements are an especially important written source for these Siamese songs.

This research aims to describe how a European musician interprets Thai traditional music with his artistic approach and how a Thai artist combines classical compositional techniques and Thai traditional characters in his creative works. This cross-cultural transfer also shows the “Tradition in Transition” of the interpretation and the compositional style in each period.

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