The Temptations of Saint Anthony – Fantasy for two pianos
The work is based on the novel „La Temptation de Saint Antoine“ by Gustave Flaubert. The work describes one night in the life of St. Anthony. While praying, the saint struggles to fend off numerous temptations. The underlying idea of the piece lends itself to the form of theme and variations because the chant theme is inflicted by the various temptations which he experiences.
Introduction: The desert on the upper river Nile at sunset, high rocks, echoes of the last bird voices.
Theme: Anthony in the evening prayer.
Variation 1: Beginning unrest of Anthony.
Variation 2: The prayer theme appears distorted in an ugly way.
Variation 3: The prayer theme appears temptingly and beautiful.
Now Anthony encounters different visions depicted in episodes with themes for each episode.
Episode: Demons, spirits and disguising creatures.
Variation 4: Anthony tries to deter these appearances through prayer.
Episode: The Queen of Saba with grand seduction.
Variation 5: Again Anthony tries to fend off the visions.
Now three episodes are following with figures of other religions:
Episode: The religion of ancient Egypt: Isis with her dead son.
Episode: Tibetan Buddha in meditation.
Episode: Hinduism: Indian dance-girls.
Variation 6: Anthony resumes his prayer, but all temptations come upon him simultaneously.
This Variation flows into the
Development: More and more visions torture him. He collapses.
Epilogue: First dawn; sunrise. „From the disc of the sun the face of Jesus Christ shines brightly. Saint Anthony makes the sign of the cross and resumes his prayer.“ (Flaubert, end of the novel).